“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’” (I Sam. 16:7 ESV).
Quarantine, social distancing, safer at home, wear a mask—all of these words have recently taken on a new meaning. Prior to 2020 we knew these terms, but when we hear these words now, they have new context in the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world.
Even in our churches, and especially in the world of church music, no matter what style or expression, many are having a new discussion about not only wearing a mask, but singing with a mask! In this unprecedented time, we are concerned about the safety of the singer and the safety of the listener. There are wide and varying views on this for sure. But let’s take a glance at this from a different perspective.
For as long as humans have been on earth, we have used various things to cover ourselves when we are in trouble, embarrassed or have some other sense that we need to hide from others (Does the phrase, “saving face” ring a bell?). Even in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God by covering themselves. The famous French sculpture, Rodin, depicts this in his piece, “Eve after the Fall.” Rodin shows Eve turning away and hiding her face from God. Whether it’s a fig leaf, sunglasses, using our hands, oversized hats or masks, our very human response to embarrassment or shame is to cover up. Who hasn’t seen people being hustled in to a police station, covering themselves with a coat or their hands as they are moved along by the officers?
In our “normal” world, most people use a mask to conceal their identity. This runs the gamut from “Batman,” “The Lone Ranger” (look it up), to a person who may be planning to do harm in some way. Most masks hide the face, and some even try to conceal the eyes. No matter how they are fashioned or how they look, the intent of the mask is the same – not let others see who you really are.
Not all masks are physical.
Have you ever attempted to worship with a mask on? I have–not a physical mask, but a spiritual one. The mask was there because I didn’t want God to fully see me in my current state—I had something in my life that I knew is not pleasing to Him. Of course, there is no mask that will restrict God from seeing us and knowing our heart.
In 1 Sam. 16:7, God warned Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Just as God reminded Samuel that He looks at our hearts, we can also see God for who He really is: Savior, Redeemer and so much more. Perhaps the hymn writer had the right perspective when she wrote: “Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face, to see and know. Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so.”
What would be the opposite of worshipping with a mask? Coming joyfully and thankfully into God’s presence! What a wonderful time it is when we can approach God with a sense of gratitude for His grace and love for us. Worshipping without a mask is only possible as we approach God through the grace that He provides through our relationship with him.
Heb. 4:16 reminds us that we can come boldly into God’s presence because of this relationship. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
As worshippers, there is no need to wear a mask or try to hide when we approach God. Instead, we should remember God’s love for us and His desire to have a permanent, loving relationship.
All of us have flaws and shortcomings—sin in our lives. God knows us—and loves us, and provides a way for us to come to Him in worship.
Have you ever thought that God does not want us to come into His presence because of the flaws and sin in our lives? The exact opposite is true! God wants and desires us to have fellowship with Him and restore a full loving relationship with us. He wants us to worship Him because He knows that is best for us—we were made to worship and honor Him.
- Is there something in your life that makes you want to wear a “mask” as you worship God?
- What could do right now to be ready to remove the “mask” and remember that God sees you and loves you?
“God, let me come to you face to face, not hiding in guilt or shame, but giving thanks for your love and your forgiveness in my life.”
NOTE: This is taken, in part, from a new devotional book, “Rise Up and Praise Him.” The book features daily devotions from Ministers of Music and worship leaders across the US, including several serving in Oklahoma Baptist churches.