Masks of God – people doing God’s work

By Dave Henning / December 25, 2020

“Martin Luther had a curious but helpful way of talking about [God working through sinful, ordinary people].  He described people doing God’s work as His masks — Larvae Dei (masks of God) is the Latin phrase. . . .  We’re His masks, giving the appearance that it’s merely human beings at work.  But remove our faces from the picture, and you’ll behold God active in the world.”- Rev. Jeffrey Leininger

Rev. Jeffrey Leininger moves on in Chapter 3 of Callings for Life as he states something that seems quite obvious.  God works through people.  Yet, the author admits, most of the time we probably wish this wasn’t the case.  Because we often tend to mess things up.  Certainly, it’s more exciting to look for God’s direct and dramatic intervention into human affairs.  But, for the vast majority of human history, God has used ordinary people to extend His providential hand into our lives.

In addition, Rev. Leininger suggests a second helpful way to think about this concept.  Imagine that you are His gloves – the gloves of God.  While the outside world sees human hands, Christian eyes perceive a deeper reality.  Of course, all people — Christians and non-Christians — function as God’s gloves in the world.

Yet, four touchstones distinguish Christians and non-Christians in their work as masks of God.  Today Rev. Leininger covers the first two touchstones.

1.  Motive.  The baptized believer, Rev. Leininger observes, seeks to respond to God’s great love.  As a result, the believer serves as God’s instrument in love and service to others.  Also, the believer stewards his/her gifts in helpful ways for the good of the world as well as the church.

 2.  Mood.  A heart that knows the Gospel exudes cheerfulness and confidence.  Furthermore, Christians rejoice because they know that God works through them for others.  Therefore, nothing’s too menial, trivial, complex, or daunting  — since God’s love stands behind it all.  Rev. Leininger concludes:

“Christians, then strive to grow in their skills and usefulness, as well as in the character of their sanctified lives.  They do this precisely because God moves through them in their work.  They represent Him and work for Him.”

Today’s question: How do you see yourself and others as the masks of God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The sacred import of commonplace activity”

About the author

Dave Henning

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