The Mask and The Maker

 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:8-9

"Until We Have Faces" is one of my favorite albums from a group of Christian musicians that call themselves "Red". They shared that the album was based loosely on some reading from the C.S. Lewis book "Till We Have Faces", the last novel he published in 1956, a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I won't give you the book review, you can read it yourself, but one of the quotes from that book was a name sake for Red's album, and it's a lesson in "intimacy" for me, something that has caused me to be in God's Word in a new way.

Toward the end of the book, the main character has come to issue her self righteous complaint against the "gods", but as she does so she hears the ugliness and bitterness of her words in a cackling, hated voice reading her complaint over and over until the judge says "enough". In the silence that follows the judge simply asks the question "Are you answered?" and our character simply answers "yes", having finally heard her unmistakable true voice. Lewis then pens this brilliant confession:


"“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? 
How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

Throughout our lives, the search for and affirmation of identity is intense and is often driven by a desire for intimacy. To be known, truly known by other people and to truthfully know others, in a sense to be naked and unashamed. Physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy are important for human beings and without it, our interactions with other people are hollow, shallow, self serving and unfulfilling.

This quote is so powerful to me, for two reasons. Person to person, intimacy requires me to be honest with myself about who I am, my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, beauty and ugliness. In order for me to have intimacy with another person, I have to be willing to take off the mask and have the courage to be vulnerable and to share these realities with someone else. Intimacy requires honesty and a willingness to share it (vulnerability). It's only then that we can have a chance at the depth of relationship that all of us really want. 

Secondly, it makes me think about my relationship with God, with Jesus. The Bible talks about the growth that God is desiring for people who call themselves Christians. It's not just about "getting to heaven", but it's about a deepening relationship with the one who made you and loves you, cheers for you and died for you, showers mercy on you and forgives you. God desires intimacy with us, with you, with me. He has shown us his beautiful face, but all too often, we refuse to show him ours. Because of our refusal, we feel we are not known and many people don't see the face of God as a beautiful thing

"How can we meet them face to face, until we have faces?" I love that quote and the implications it has for everyone, but especially for Christians. It's what "confession" is all about. In public worship and in private, we are invited by God to take off our masks of self reliance, denial and outright lies. We acknowledge the good things that we have are gifts, not rights. We confess our failings and our utter need for help. We speak plainly, openly, passionately, emotionally, because God is our Father, he's shown his face to us and it is not the of wrath that we know we deserve. THAT face... he showed that face to his son Jesus who took our place and paid the debt we owe to have relationship. Instead, by grace through faith, we take off the mask of "self", and we assume the face of who we REALLY ARE! A child, speaking to and answered by our loving heavenly Father.

The beginning of true intimacy with people around you, derives it's strength and power from the intimacy that you have with Jesus. And this is a process and it takes time, your lifetime. But the reality is that, the more we get to know ourselves, be honest about who we are in Christ, the easier it is to spend time with God in his word and the more deeply you appreciate, understand and feel that word running through you and see it in your life. God is eager to give you your deepest most rewarding relationship - the one he gives you of himself. My prayer is for you, and for me, to meet with Jesus face to face.

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