Manhood: The glorious inner excitement a guy feels-- from his nose to his toes-- when he assumes sacrificial responsibility.
Jesus would walk up to a guy and call him out of his routine and into a new way of sacrificial living and giving with the simple command “Follow Me.”
I remember the day when my dad “called me out” to join him for a work-out at the Atilis Gym.
The Atilis gym was no Planet Fitness.
A dilapidated building full of rusting weights and creaking machines magnetized men of all shapes and sizes to enter, “pump some iron” and test the extremes of their testosterone.
Angry grunting, the scent of body sweat and eardrum-rupturing rock music washed over me, like a tidal wave, as I followed dad into that Jersey shore gym down the street from our home.
Brian, the owner, had a body that from the neck down resembled a bulky Coke machine. A large bobble-head was perched atop his frame as he smiled in my direction.
· It felt good when he noticed me and then aimed his hulk-like hand towards me for a “welcome to the man-club” handshake.
I knew during that mutual vice-grip squeeze that I was far from the feminine family and in the midst of manhood.
But what actually marks out manhood from womanhood?
A stroll through the Jesus story, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals at least five aspects of manhood.
Men image God as lords, husbands, saviors, sages and bearers of His glory.
Or so says William Mouser, who wrote a book on this subject years ago. While I don’t agree with everything he says, Mouser helped me with a Biblical framework as I began to raise sons of my own.
While both men and women reflect God in similar ways, men and women also reflect God in different ways. When we accept the similarities and the differences, a rich-colored picture of God emerges to inform our sexuality and inflame our worship of God.
· Let’s look at the aspect of man as lord and we will develop the other four in upcoming posts.
Referring to a man as lord may sound blasphemous to some of our ears.
Only God is Lord—right? Right. When God is described as LORD he is the ultimate ruler above all.
I’m not referring to man as lord in that sense. Our English word lord derives from the Old English hlaford which means “master of the house” or ruler.
We find this concept in the very first command given to Adam in the garden: “…fill the earth, and be its master. Rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that crawl on the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
Later in the Jesus story we read “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:3)
· A head rules over a body for its good, not the other way around.
A young man constantly wonders “who am I and what am I here for?” Parents need to aim their sons at this picture of lordship. God designed a man to exercise dominance and power on the earth by commanding, controlling, deciding and decreeing good.
Remember that God created man to be an image of His ultimate rule (see Gen. 1:26). Rulers in the ancient world would erect statues of themselves and place them all over their kingdom. When someone saw the image or statue, they would be reminded of the power, provision and rule of the ultimate king.
Do we deliver this picture of dignity to our sons? Wives, do you speak to others respectfully regarding your husband’s God-etched role? Though they are not God they are masculine mirrors of the true master of the universe.
Just watch the men in your life. They will try to master this or that. They will work hard to accomplish great goals. These are glimpses of lordship.
But sin shattered the image of God.
Now men do two terrible things:
· they either abandon their representative rule on the earth
· or abuse their power and authority.
Regretfully, I do both of these. One minute I am passively abandoning an area of rule as a dad, husband, pastor, friend, and neighbor. I drag my feet instead of making the hard decision. I wait for my wife to decide so that she can take the heat for the consequences.
The next minute I am abusing others, creation, myself and God due to my sin. I make unilateral decisions without consulting my wife’s wisdom, God in prayer, or the wisdom of others.
I spend so much energy trying to hide my sin-shattered state or fake a fully-restored image of lordship, rather than admit my true condition.
Is there hope for my masculinity? Yes.
· Jesus became a man. He never abandoned or abused his rule.
He came to restore my masculinity, reversing the curse of sin and is actively restoring me to become more and more like him.
“As all of us reflect the Lord's glory…we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”. (2 Cor. 3:18)
So moms—allow your sons to rule. Let them make decisions. Stop dictating the details of their life and allow them control.
Wives—stop nagging. We all know this is a fierce attempt to manipulate us into masculinity. When you manipulate a man, you pour fuel on the fire of our sinful tendency to abandon or abuse. Stop. Help us by praying. Turn to your ultimate Lord and submit to his direction on how to live with such difficult men. He will help you.
Dads, stop spinning the unimpressive image of your lordship to your family. They know you are a shattered image. Instead, admit when you abandon or abuse your rule. Decide to ask for forgiveness.
Men, we need to spend more time deciding to gaze upon the face of Christ. He has taken the penalty for our abandonment and abuse of lordship and transferred his resume of righteousness to our account.
He is renovating us right now by his Spirit to rule with mercy and grace.
I look forward to expressing the second aspect of masculinity, “man as husband” next time.
An unfinished man gazing at the finished man Jesus,
Metro North Church