West Franklin Family,

“Isn’t it ironic . . . don’t you think?” Pardon the Alanis Morissette reference, but her lyrics keep ringing in my head. I mean, there are worse songs you could have playing in your head right now. Consider, “It’s a Small World” from Disney. You see. It could be worse. Graciously, good ole Alanis keeps popping back in.

I can’t help thinking about (and be convicted by) the irony of the whole mask deal around the nation, state, city, and our church. I mean, masks are intended to cover up, protect, conceal. But I fear what they are really doing is uncovering. Revealing. Showing. Giving us a peak behind everyone’s curtain, so to speak. Masks are meant to conceal. Masks due to the COVID-19 deal, however? They reveal more than anything.

At least they are for me. This whole mask deal is uncovering a bunch of junk about me and my own heart that I don’t like.

Yes. I have an opinion about masks. We all do. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being human to have an opinion about things you have to wear over your face that may or may not work – depending on your opinion and what web article you read last night before drifting off to sleep. Having an opinion about masks is fine and good.

But here’s what frightens me (about myself, anyway). I have been concerned, too concerned, about what is right or wrong regarding the wearing of masks. Recommend? Mandate? Encourage? Discourage? Have a “masked” section and an “unmasked” section at church? (Makes me wonder if we should bring back the smoking and non-smoking sections at restaurants. . . just kidding. . . sort of). I have been concerned, too concerned, about what you all would think when emails went out recommending the wearing of masks when we gather again tomorrow. (Bee-tee-dubs*: We used the same verbiage in the email we sent to you before we regathered last Summer.)

Do you see the problem?

Let me put it this way: I have been more concerned about this mask situation then I have in how West Franklin is engaging the lost and searching in our city. This whole mask deal has revealed something in my heart that I don’t like: I am more concerned with my own opinion, and what you think about mask wearing, than my heart breaking for the people needing/longing for Jesus. I have been more consumed with getting us on the same page regarding masks (an impossible task) than I have been getting us on the same page with our mission (a supernaturally possible task).

If, after watching what I watched Wednesday evening on the news, I am still bothered about masks – I have a problem. A HUGE problem. A Gospel problem. A Jesus problem. A heart problem. A problem that screams, “You are more concerned about your own opinion and your popularity than you are the nation that is in desperate need of Jesus!” My mask problem reveals a lot. What about you? What does your ‘mask opinion’ revealing about your heart?

Again. It is not wrong to have an opinion about masks. What is wrong for Matt Pearson is to be more concerned about the mask situation than I am about getting the whole Gospel to the whole person. I have allowed a second or third level situation become a top-tier priority. In my mind, anyway.

Some people are going to wear masks and believe it to be the best and most wise thing to do. Some people will think otherwise. Some churches will open at full capacity without recommending masks. Some won’t. Some people will think we are crazy for gathering. Some will think we are way too limited.

You know what? At the end of the day, my mandate is to proclaim the Gospel. Behind a mask or without one. Behind a camera or in front of a crowd. To my neighbor and to the nations. Watching what I had to watch on Wednesday in Washington, and still being anxious about masks reveals a lot. It reveals I have lost sight of the commission given me and our church. And here’s the super scary, horrific, make-you-want-to-cry question we all need to ask: “Was I/Were we busy making Jesus known when there were no safety protocols in place?” Gulp. Maybe the issue isn’t masks and safety limits at all. Maybe this mask thing is simply revealing the ultimate problem. Jesus can (and must) be made known with or without “proper Covid procedures.” Pray for your pastor. Pray for our church. Pray for the Spirit to compel us outward.

Maybe it’s just me. But I fear this mask thing is revealing more than it is concealing. It sure is ironic. . . don’t you think?

Oh yeah. And here’s one more (beautiful) irony: Jesus came to take our failures and redeem them for His purposes. Let’s take off our masks (spiritual), agree with Him at what they are revealing about our hearts, receive forgiveness and grace, and let Him make us into a people (masked or not) who live to make Him known.

Longing to Join Jesus in His Work with You,

Pastor Matt

*Bee-Tee-Dubs = BTW = By The Way (my unsuccessful attempt at being cool.)

Speaking of, BTW – we are gathering in person tomorrow. Depending on your thoughts and opinions (and we all have them), please join us in person or on-line. Either way, I will have my Bible open to Luke 4:16-22.