Back in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, when things were at their worst, and many were “masked up,” I found it really hard to meet new people. As if the pandemic didn’t separate us enough, we also were unable to look people in the face… the full face. When meeting someone for the first time, I would often wonder if I would ever be able to recognize them again. I couldn’t see their reactions to our conversations. Were they bored, interested, happy, or sad? That’s where I take my cues on where to go next in a conversation, and where I look to reconnect in the future. It’s usually based off facial recognition cues.
Behind masks people can be “someone else,” they can be anonymous, they can make choices and avoid the consequences of them in anonymity. This anonymity actually makes people make poor choices. We see it constantly in the news with masked gunmen, masked mobs, and masked rioting. We see a variation of it in social media where behind the icon of a little blue bird people can say whatever they want, and if they are the loudest, constant, and persistent voice (tweeter), they can “win” any argument, however absurd.
On social media as well as in society in general, people walk around with “masks” on covering up who they really are, what they have really done, literally and figuratively. I believe most people wear masks their entire life, most people on earth will never know… but God is not fooled, and He is a just God. He rewards us for what goes on behind the mask, for the good and the bad.
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:10-11 KJV
In the context, Paul is addressing mankind’s good and bad choices. Many, knowing the truth, but choosing the latter. Here, in contrast to earlier verses where he condemns the sin, he reminds the reader that God rewards goodness. He is familiar with them, their good and bad deeds. He like no one else is capable of seeing behind their masks… He alone knows their truths, and He rewards the good.
My reference to masks here comes from the Latin translation “persona” of the original Greek word translated in English as “person.” Mask here seems an excellent way to interpret how God describes the way He sees people… without respect to masks, what is seen on the outside.
God judges and rewards people based off what is on the inside. For some, this will come as a great relief, because God knows our intentions, our heart… He knows us. Even when we make mistakes, He knows that we are trying. But for those who find no relief in these words from Paul, perhaps it’s time for us to take a good hard look… behind the mask.
Dr. Ronald Barnes Jr.
November 1, 2022