Shakespeare loved to use masks in his plays—a sort of play within a play. In Much Ado About Nothing, the characters attend a masked ball, disguising their true identities. It’s a safe place to figure out who likes whom, like junior highers passing notes through their friends. Does Hero like Claudio? How does Beatrice really feel about Benedick, whom she outwardly scorns? But throughout the play, the masks—real and symbolic—have a more devious function than a dance. Masks hide insecurities, and these insecurities threaten to undo the happily-ever-after.
Behind the curtain of high-performing employee, energetic adventurer, happily married wife, loving mother, and pitch-perfect hostess, there’s always something rotten. If we reveal our sin and fears and insecurities, we may lose our image, our belonging, and our security. So, we often stay behind the mask and curtain.
But we need a safe place to remove our masks.
James calls us to confess our sins to one another. When we confess those ugly, rotten things about ourselves within trusted Christian community, we extend our freedom from our relationship with God to our relationship with others. When we confess our sins to each other, James said, we will be healed. This healing happens because “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Revealing our sin brings it to a place where others can pray for us; it brings darkness to light. Instead of being shamed, we are lifted to God. Instead of rejection, we find love and belonging. We have the opportunity to see each other as we truly are—marred but made in the image of God. Then we can hear Jesus’ voice through his body saying, “I see you exactly as you are, and I love you.”
On our own, the path of sanctification is treacherous. We forget who we are, why we are following Jesus, and where we are going. But together, with mutual compassion, we hold each other accountable, offer a hand when the other falls, and lean on each other in prayer. We remind each other who we truly are and where we’re going. This kind of vulnerability requires setting aside our masks. It requires confessing to one another the truth about ourselves and letting others speak the truth of Jesus into our lives. We need each other.