“And I hope nobody tells them that they’re supposed to act like they’ve got it all together. You don’t often get to see people without a mask. And it’s such a beautiful thing. ~from the book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. Zondervan books, 2011
I had not planned on writing another post here until sometime next week. What changed my mind was an unexpected gift my pastor gave me in his sermon last Sunday; the day I happened to be baptized. Pastor L. briefly mentioned a book called “Not a Fan” by Pastor Kyle Idleman. Intrigued, (blame it on my degree in English and Creative Writing) I went home and looked it up. After reading a summary of the book and the rave reviews, I bought it.
Best. Baptismal. Gift. Ever.
It has radically changed my view of what it means to be committed to Christ. How easy it would be to just be a fan and not a committed follower. It challenged me and stripped away all the niceties that one puts up as barricades for the world and for one’s church family. I could go to church every Sunday, attend bible study, dress the right way, say the proper things, avoid certain music and movies…but will Jesus know me?
What Pastor Idleman sets before me is the truth. I can do all those things but I better have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I better be passionate and committed and never content to just sit. Don’t misunderstand! Bible study, church service, and all that goes with it are good and necessary things to grow in your faith. But what I understand the book to say is that we get so comfortable with the facade of doing these things we become fans instead of followers. It is our mask we present to the world.
As I read about these masks we wear, the pastor wrote of new church members talking about themselves in a very honest way. And he found that beautiful. Imagine: as a pastor he found this kind of honesty, which shows brokenness and imperfection and need, beautiful. He found it to be so because the new members had not learned to hide behind the mask of doing the accepted and the expected. I want to be that honest for Jesus.
As I reflected on my own “mask” I realized something. I worry about how my new church family will accept me. I’m not exactly a replica of Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith show. I have a past, as I briefly touched on in my first post. I made some choices in my life that hurt. Those things might be easily hidden under a mask of being the “good Christian” who does all the right things in front of the right people and smiles as if she has it all together. What’s not so easily hidden though, are the visible signs of my past life: my tattoos. A couple of them, specifically the one on my left arm, are hard to hide in 90 degree heat.
The tattoos came at a time when I needed to feel as if I were in complete control. I wanted to feel in control of my life and my body and what I could and could not do. The temporary “high” I got emotionally and mentally from the tattoos was just that-temporary. The real issues had yet to be addressed but unfortunately the ink could not be wiped away once I had finally faced my problems.
So here I am, new Christian, and at times fretting about keeping covered so “no one knows” even when its melting hot. But after reading the above passage I quoted from Pastor Idleman’s book, I saw myself differently.
Jesus knows those tattoos are there-from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to the Greek mythology to others-He knows what’s on my skin. But more importantly, He knows whats in my heart. And I don’t want to wear a mask or play pretend.
Jesus already knows every thing, every tiny detail, every miserable decision and wrong choice–I’ve given it all to Him. So why do I hold so tightly to this thing of the past when it’s been soothed by His Love? That is the mark of being a fan who wants her mask to stay on for the world to see. Because its easy.
I’m laying that mask down. I am not in control and I have His Peace. God has alot of work to do with me and that’s OK. So maybe next Sunday I’ll wear short sleeves and if my Van Gogh tattoo peeks out now and then, I won’t fret. After all, it’s old news to Jesus anyway. Then I can just focus on being a follower because the last thing I want is to be a fan of Jesus.
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