“But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” Matthew 6:5
I have a distinct memory of my childhood. We were in church and two rows forward was a cute, four-year old girl standing next to her mother in the pew. It was before the service had started and she was smiling and waving at the people behind her. Her mom abruptly sat her down and said, “We’re in church!” The little girl started to cry, and the mother said, “That’s better.”
This still disturbs me. Why do we “dress up” for church? To be seen by men? Why do we sit up straight and act good? Does God care? God doesn’t care. He sees us the other 167 hours of the week. He knows we aren’t good and doesn’t want us to come shined up for inspection. He loves us just the way we are.
Church should be an extension of the rest of the week, where we honor God and put Him first. We must make “Sunday go to meeting” a “come as you really are” time. We are there to meet with our God who cleanses us, forgives us and strengthens us for the battle ahead. On our right and left are fellow soldiers who have been nicked and wounded in the fight we call life. To come to this healing service with a mask on delights the enemy. Masks prevent us from coming alongside of one another, praying for each other and joining together against the common foe.
There were a million things God could have said to Moses when he passed by him in Exodus 34:6-7. Notice and meditate on what He DID say: “As God passed in front of Moses, He said: “I am the Lord, the Lord. I am a God who is tender and kind. I am gracious. I am slow to get angry. I am faithful and full of love. I continue to show my love to 1000’s. I forgive those who do evil. I forgive those who refuse to obey. I forgive those who sin.”
Church is for sinners who need a Savior, not for the sanctified who want to show off their stuff.