Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
Last week at camp, to read that post click here, the pastor spoke about the difference between seeming and being. He talked about how we often hide who we really are instead of being who God called us to be. I believe what truly marks us as Christians is our genuine love for each other.
In this section of scripture Paul says “Let love be genuine”. The word that we translate as genuine actually has a deeper meaning. The word Anupokritos refers to the theater masks used to depict different emotions and characters. In ancient Greece, masks had several uses. They made it easier for three actors used in a play to portray more than one part each. They enabled the all-male casts to play both men and women. Some experts even claim that the masks helped amplify the voice so that it could be heard at the back of the large open-air theatres. However, the most significant role of the mask was the transformation that could occur. An ordinary man could go beyond his real identity and become a mythological hero, a foolish old man, a beautiful young woman, a god, or a slave. In disguise he could say and do things that he could not in everyday life, and could present to the audience events, actions and ideas that were horrifying or ridiculous, inspiring or fantastic. Paul is saying we need to let our love be genuine. We need to love without the mask.
The Masks We Wear
My husband has a nice shiny testimony where he came to know Christ when he was very young. He was in church much of his life because his dad was a pastor. I do not share his experience. I lived in a small town, and people knew enough to expect very little from me. At an early age I became the queen of mask wearing. As a teenager, I wanted everyone to believe that I had it all together and was doing just fine. I wanted to prove that I could rise above their opinions of me. I have risen above those assumptions and opinions, however, when you are always wearing a mask and never letting anyone close it’s a lonely road.
If you are reading this you know I am not alone in my mask wearing. We walk the halls in church with our smiles on so that nobody knows we are struggling. We want everyone to think we have it all together. Would it make you all feel better to know that I don’t have it together? Look at the women around you. They don’t have it all together, nobody does.
How to Love
I have learned through 16 years of ministry with my husband, that people have a church face and a public face and the two should be kept separate. I have also learned that people don’t really like it that way, but they don’t know what to do about it.
Romans 12:10 – 18 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Seeming Rather than Being
When I came across this passage and its meaning it blew me away. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to each other instead of loving each other. Can you imagine a church where people “outdo each other in showing honor”? What if we realized our need for Jesus and there was no need to pretend like we have everything together? Can you imagine what it would be like if we all put our talents together for the glory of God? Don’t you think that is what our crazy world needs to see? The lost people in our community don’t need people with shiny lives to tell them how to fix their mess. They need real people with experience in the mess to come alongside them and love them to Jesus. They need to see us rejoicing with each other and weeping with each other. We need to remove the masks that make us seem like we have it all together and be the people God has called us to be.