The Masquerade Jesus came to End
Some time ago, my husband and I were attending a party at which there would also be two people whom had deeply wronged my husband and me. The context of the relationship was not one in which we could speak any more truth or seek restoration, furthermore, it was clear on their end that they were not open to humbling themselves.
In preparing for the party, I asked him many questions including, “Do I have to sit by them?” “Can’t I just smile fake and nod when they talk?” But I also reassured him, “I will be ‘polite’”.
My husband responded to me with, “Kristin, I want to love them in our hearts, not just act like it with our behavior”.
Darn it. He knew.
My husband knew my plan was to put on a fake but happy look on my face and give a show, all the while my heart being filled with resentment, bitterness, and vengeful anger. The two individuals would never even know anything was wrong- I’d play my part well- and I’d even give myself an intermission to go huff and puff in the bathroom and then come out, smooth my skirt, and play my role again. I planned on giving myself a standing ovation at the end of the night for my acting skills I knew I’d produce.
But Jesus came to end these masquerades.
Jesus came to reveal the heart behind our behavioral shows. In fact, Jesus came to connect our hearts to our behavior, not separate them. And to do so, He knew we needed a new heart, not simply behavioral band-aids. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promised:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
And God sent us His son to give us this new heart, and He did it through His Spirit. And sometimes, even after we’ve been given a rejuvenate heart when we begin walking with Christ, our hearts become tempted to walk in hardness once again. And hardened hearts don’t bring life and freedom and joy- they are just that, hard. Unable to be formed and moved and nourished. And hardened hearts aren’t enjoyable, are they? I don’t need to tell you that being consumed with bitter anger, jealousy, resentment, unforgiveness, or anything else that opposes the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)- is a burdensome and heavy weight to carry.
So what is the hope? What doesn’t just connect our heart to behavior, but connects our behavior to a heart overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit? The power and work of the Holy Spirit. God knew that this heart could only be given to us, not mustered up in our own strength, thus He tells us in Ezekiel He would give “a new heart, and a new Spirit” (italicized mine). And this work of the Spirit was described by Jesus Himself:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. (John 14:26) (Italicized mine).
The glorious and beautiful news is that God doesn’t leave us alone in our hardened hearts and in the behavioral masquerade. And the solution He provides is Himself, His spirit dwelling within us and growing the heart He gave us, helping us to understand God’s commands and remembering how to walk in His ways. This Spirit reminds us to obey Christ not to weigh us down with more burdens, but to free us from the heaviness of sin that is at the root of our behavioral masquerades, for He tells us:
“The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Before my husband and I attended the party that night, we prayed. We prayed that God would soften our hearts, free us from the weight of the bitter anger, and produce a behavior that was authentically loving. Walking in love and forgiveness didn’t have to mean we approved of their behavior, it simply meant that we could walk in freedom from our own burden of unforgiveness.
We laid down the mask of our behavior and allowed God to transform our heart.