The recent riots in England have been quite alarming, even just watching them on the TV. It must have been terrifying for those living nearby and especially for those who have been affected by them. One of the saddest parts for me was the furniture store which was burnt down. It was a quite unique building, housing a family firm with a history over 150 years. The photos of the building before the fire showed that the outside was really lovely, a building with real style. I have no idea what the inside was like, but I imagine that it was like most old shops – not quite right for today’s businesses.
Last Saturday, I was a million miles from riots and disturbance. I was involved in Cumbernauld Gala Day, a fledgling but thriving event in the town which has been described as a carbuncle, basically because the original architecture of the town was 1960’s concrete horror. Although I was well away from riots, I was a bit close to fires. At the start it was ok, but as the day wore on, it became a struggle. I was helping with the barbecue, you see, and after burger number 501 my eyes were nipping, and tears were streaming down my face.
One of the stalls that had a huge queue was for face-painting. Kids love it. It changes them, you see. They can become a lion, a flower, a butterfly, Batman. All you need is the paint and the imagination, and off you go! The world is yours.
Back to the riots. The kids there weren’t covered in face-paint. They had hoodies and scarves covering their faces. They didn’t become someone or something else, they became nobody you know.
Back to me at the BBQ. Tears streaming down my face. No longer the happy guy that cooked my burger, I became that man that’s crying, because he doesn’t want to give me that burger that I just paid for.
Faces that contradict the inside, hide the truth, deny the truth, belie the truth.
Or do they? One of the guys who has been arrested after the riots in England was tracked down because he had a stolen phone. Police took him home, and found the boxes from two new TVs outside his house. Truth will always out.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? We put on a facade, a face that belies the outside.
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matt 6:16-18, NLT)
We put on faces that suit our purposes. They make us look good, or stop us from looking bad. They make us look strong, or they make us look gentle. But one day the facade will burn down, the face paint will wash off, the mask will fall.
Our Father knows what we do in private, and he sees everything.
No facade. No mask. No face-paint.
Wash your face. That’s the bravest thing to do.