Another Sunday morning after a Saturday night of binging with porn and adult chat rooms on the Internet.

I walked into the sanctuary a few steps behind my wife and kids with a smile plastered on my face. I made small talk, shook hands, and replied with the token “Fine” when asked how I was doing or how my week had been. As we made our way to our seats and sat down, I glanced around the room, carefully studying some of the other families near us.

Then came the onslaught.

“Look at Randy and his happy family. He wasn’t up until the wee hours looking at smut last night. What is your problem? When are you going to get serious and get more disciplined?”

“Joe’s wife is radiant today. Look at how she looks at him. Maybe Melody would look at you that way if you were more of a spiritual leader.”

“Frank is such a godly man. He would be appalled if he knew your dirty secret. And he is such a great dad. Your kids are stuck with a dad who is always looking for his next time alone in order to get his fix.”

“If you really appreciated the sacrifice Jesus made for your sins, you wouldn’t constantly be seeking out pornography. Why can’t you get it together like these guys? You are really making a mockery of God’s grace.”

Sunday after Sunday, the Accuser and my own inner critic would blast me for my sin and I was left as an empty shell, cowering in shame, looking for a place to hide.

And boy was I good at hiding.

I hid because I was comparing my absolute worst with everyone else’s pristine mask. I hid because I felt I was fundamentally broken and defective. I hid because I didn’t believe anyone could love the real me. I hid because I could not fathom the thought of another human being knowing my secrets.

I hid because, fundamentally, I didn’t believe the Gospel.

Hiding is our flesh’s natural reaction to sin and failure. We get it honestly. The first thing Adam and Eve did in the garden when they blew it was to hide.

But their Daddy came looking for them.

Genesis 3 is the chapter where sin entered the world, but it also gives us our first glimpse of grace, way back there in the beginning. God mentions the “seed of woman” in Genesis 3 and there has only been one who came from the seed of woman and who did not have a human father…

Jesus.

And the wonderfully scandalous Gospel says this…

Everyone is wrong. Everyone is loved. Everyone is called to recognize this and allow God to change them.

But, like the brothers in Luke 15, we struggle to believe it can be that simple. We vacillate between an elder brother heart, thinking we have God’s love and approval because of our dutiful service, and a prodigal heart, believing we have forever squandered our rights to be sons because of our past failures. Both brothers missed the heart of their father and, as a result, they hid…one in plain sight and one in shame.

We hide in direct proportion to our unbelief of the Gospel.

It has been over 15 years since the Sunday morning onslaught that I described earlier occurred. I now know that most of the men I was comparing myself to were hiding behind their own masks.  The sexual sins of at least 15 men…including the senior pastor and worship leader…have been brought to the light over the years.

Everyone is wrong. Everyone is loved. Everyone is called to recognize this and allow God to change them.

I sometimes wonder how things might have been different if one of us had had the courage to take off our mask and to be authentic. What kind of awakening might have taken place? What kind of deep community might have been created? By cowardly holding onto our secrets and hiding behind our masks, we assisted the Enemy in perpetuating the lie that we were the only ones struggling…especially with such a “big” sin.

Because the Gospel is true, we can be ourselves and drop the masks. We are free to connect with others at our weaknesses rather than try to impress others with our strengths. Because we are loved as we are, there is nothing that has to be relegated to the shadows. Whether we are hiding in plain sight or cowering in shame, we have a Daddy who is looking for us.

Drop the mask. Step into the light.

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