Last week we unpacked some of the more dingy pieces of societal manhood that we see today. It is not a pretty picture. On the spectrum of Adolf Hitler and Nero being some of the worst examples of mankind that have ever been born, to Jesus being the absolute perfect man, we are trending more and more toward Adolf today. We talked about how men today have a growing affection for ourselves and our own plans, and anyone who interrupts the direction we are moving gets an earful. The current picture the Encyclopedia of Manhood would give us is not a pretty one.
We have not helped that image. We talked last week about the poor generational choices that led us to this catastrophic edge. Let’s briefly look at some of the cultural influences that are equal in their ability to lead a generation to ruin.
In an effort to shed light on the perfect woman, our society has triumphed the dumb male. Most images we see of men in the present day are slow, stumbling, foul, incapable of simple tasks and poor leaders; they are generally a mess. A generation ago, we saw this image appear in comics like Beetle Bailey and Dagwood. The men were a goofy mess and it was the women in almost every strip that saved the day. Think back further to the Andy Griffeth show or the Brady Bunch. Both of these shows had some bumbling men characters but they also had strong, capable male (and female) characters. There was a good balance between the two. But as we moved into the 70’s and 80’s, those strong male characters were replaced with men who couldn’t accomplish the simple task of brushing their teeth without a woman to help them. This short sidestep has been added to a thousand other little moves that have led our men to believe that to be a man is to be an idiot.
God gives us a total other view. His view. We see it in the Bible and we witness it firsthand all throughout the last 2000 years of Christian history. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” That’s found in Micah six verse eight and it is just one among thousands of verses that emulate the Godly, faithful man. We see this lived out in men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David. We see it in every single type of Scripture, from Noah’s faithful swinging of the hammer, to the wise man in Proverbs avoiding the house of the adulterous woman, to Daniel praying when his life was on the line. In the New Testament, Jesus acts as the high water mark, but He is far from alone in the category of men who walk with their Maker. Zacchaeus is lifted up as a picture of generosity, Peter overcomes extreme prejudice and John willingly endures isolation for the health of the future Church. These examples are not given to us as statues like Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson. We look at so many of our founding fathers with such awe, we tend to believe there will never be another man like them. But the heroes we find in the Bible are all presented as men whose character and lifestyle is attainable for the average man who seeks the Lord.
Just listen to these qualities: prayerful, compassionate, forgiving and patient. Men who walk with God are not perfect. They make mistakes, blunder things and sometimes really screw things up. But they live to face another day because they know they are forgiven. They do not have to live each day with the shame or embarrassment being human sometimes lays on us. They love strongly, picking up the family and friends God has given them and leading them to the cross. They are willing to fight for the cause of the weak and forgotten. They choose to look injustice in the eye and not back down until the truth has won. And they do all of this with profound humility. They are well aware of their own shortfalls and the impossible ways God builds them up and moves them forward. The modern man and the Godly man are two different people. The first is formed in you naturally from birth. The second can only take root in your life as you submit yourself to Jesus.
As a man you can either hear my words with frustration, throw up your hands in resignation and just slog on, OR you can ask God to give you something different. A new reality is possible. Women do not have to be degraded or pushed aside for men to excel. Each has exciting roles as God leads us into the future. My words are not meant for the political or corporate world. These words are meant to be applied to the heart. What will you do with the manhood God has given you? Wouldn’t it have been awful if Noah said “I just don’t feel comfortable building something this big,” or Abraham said he was “too tired to keep walking,” or David said he just loved women too much to bridle his lust. We, too, have an impossible task laid on our shoulders. Men in Christ, will you step up to the plate? Do you desire to be unmasked for the glory of God? Let’s get to work!