We all often wear masks. of who we wish we were. We might wish to be super smart, athletic, a clean eater, a superchristian, a supermom, or so many other things that we hide our selves behind these masks of who we want to be. Sometimes we do it intentionally. Other times, we just find ourselves unconsciously projecting a mask to the world of who we want to be instead of who we are. I’ve caught myself using a mask to hide instead of transparently connecting that it was with great anticipation that I starting reading Steve Brown’s Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart.
In this book, Brown examines why we wear masks, who we are in Christ and when it is appropriate to take these masks off and be authentically ourselves. He examines the devil’s trinity of shame, guilt and fear. Then, immediately following that by reminding us that we are forgiven, redeemed, acceptable and loved. He talks about some big concepts such as being crucified with Christ, justification, sanctification, our own suffering, and even explains how masks hinder our mission to share the gospel with the world. He does it all with big stories, jokes and examples that are breathtakingly beautiful.
He mentions that some people consider his message antinomian, and he explains at least twice why that isn’t true. In fact, his ending chapter is to clarify some where people have misunderstood his message and to answer questions about his views on sin, justification, repentance and the like to those who may have misunderstood what he was trying to say.
I think I really love this book. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world where I’m always trying to measure up to my image of what a Christian should be. I often slip and fall, and when I could have shared that with my Christian brothers and sisters as a part of my repentance, I instead allow my fear and my shame to cause me to create a mask through which I want others to see me as perfect. In that, I found true beauty in his examples of Christians who have sinned big, and found through their confession and repentance that they have a community and that they are able to once again stand firm with the gospel.
I did not find Brown’s message to be at all one that allows us to ignore our sins, but instead, one that allows God to be the author of our testimonies. Only He can change us, and only through His grace can we find forgiveness of our sins. It reminds me of the song I used to sing when I was a kid, “He’s still working on me,” as I realize that He loves me enough to allow me to use my shortcomings as part of how I can aid other believers, find God’s grace and forgiveness and continue to work out my sanctification and my mission in my life. I just have to be willing to drop my masks when I find a safe place to do so to be able to see God work through my life.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.