I witnessed an event that brought certain aspects of our current climate into focus. There was a barista at a local coffee establishment. She was at the register wearing a mask, as we have been commanded, but her mask held a message. It was the name of a certain activist group that heralds the message that the lives of a people belonging to a certain ethnic group matter. Standing before her was a woman of that ethnic group. The barista activist was visibly annoyed by the young lady trying to order and pay. It was taking her longer than normal to do both, and it was clear that she had a disability that was causing the delay. I was puzzled. Here is a worker wearing the mask that says she cares for people just like the girl standing in front of her. However, her body language and demeaner was saying quite the opposite. For fear of sounding “judgy,” I’ll give the activist barista the benefit of the doubt. She could’ve been borrowing the mask, it could’ve been a long day for her, or something was going on in her life that had her otherwise distracted. However, at face value it didn’t look good.
It looked like what many have accused Christians of doing. On the outside, there is the mask that everything is fine. The mask of piety and devotion. On the inside, hypocrisy and lies. The heart is not engaged with the mask that is being seen. The actions betray the facade. Jesus said this concerning some with the same propensity, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:25-28). Paul said this to Titus concerning such people, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Tit. 1:16). It is for this reason that even Paul said, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). Our bodies, hearts, and minds need to be in sync with the message that we profess.
The barista could’ve been having a bad day, so now a few people might think less of the movement. When we “have a bad day,” people might use it as an excuse to never darken the door of the church again. We might give the Lord a bad name and bring reproach on His bride. In the end, be careful that our actions match up with the name we’re given to wear.