Confession: Masks sometimes scare me. Though the artistic flair of a masquerade half mask can be spectacular, full masks make me uncomfortable. Not only is there mystery in whom I’m talking to, but they are too reminiscent of clown makeup for my liking.
The worst part is that sometimes I wear them myself-without even realizing it.
I don a mask of happiness when I’m really struggling inside. I slip on a mask of energy when I’m really exhausted. I know I’m not the only one.
We all slip on masks. We hide parts of ourselves to distract each other from the real identity underneath.
As I’m going through the Gospel of John for Lent, I was reminded of this truth. John 4 depicts the revealing of one woman’s true identity. A Samaritan woman is so desperate to hide from others she fills her water jug during the hottest time of day. Only on this occasion, Jesus is there.
With a few words Jesus tugs at her mask, “Give me a drink.”
The woman is thrown off by the request. With only four words, Jesus breaks down the barriers of gender, politics, and religion.
A man speaks to a woman.
A Jew addresses a Samaritan.
A rabbi asks to drink out of a defiled, unclean bucket.
Rarely has a request for a drink of water been so scandalous.
The woman is no longer invisible. She’s been called out. Jesus moves past any labels of identity given to her either by the townspeople or herself. Instead, Jesus offers her something better than musky well water: living water and the chance to be truly known.
Like the woman at the well, sometimes we need to realize that as hard as we try to hide God not only sees us, but in his love he sees through our efforts to hide.
As the woman’s mask falls to the ground, she refuses to remain hidden from others in her community a moment longer. She rushes into the town, calling out to everyone to come and see the beautiful work Jesus has done in her. They ask Jesus to stay with them and many come to know him as Christ their Savior, the Un-masker.
The woman at the well took off her mask and displayed God’s beautiful work in her life, and an entire village was transformed. Can you picture the scene? A sea of masks tumbling to the floor in a great tumultuous roar.
Which raises the question, if we were to take off our masks and give ourselves wholly revealing the beautiful work of God in our lives, then what might God do? Who would He draw closer to Himself as a result? A friend? A Neighbor? An entire community?
Anyone interested in diving into John’s Gospel with me may enjoy Pursuing God’s Beauty: Stories from the Gospel of John.
**Photo courtesy of here