So I was sitting in church the other week listening to an excellent sermon about the Thessalonians and the Church. As I listened I got more and more excited. I was thinking ‘wow, if we get a hold of this, this will change us forever.’ I glanced around to see if anyone else seemed to be getting this too. Maybe people were getting it but I will never know because there were four men sitting there with their eyes closed. Maybe they were meditating deeply. Ha, ha. Maybe they had a really late night or something. I don’t know. (Though I do know that the pastor had about two or three hours of sleep that night). The effect this sermon had on me was, I think, rather different than what the pastor had in mind originally.
Do you identify with me? Have you had this happen? Do you know how totally discouraging it is to catch a glimpse of a vision of what our churches could be and then be rudely reminded that a lot of the key people in this could care less?
If you know who these guys are don’t say anything please, I didn’t mean this to embarrass them. This is not about them. This is merely symbolic of what is, spiritually, happening in a lot of our reformed churches. There has been talk lately among the youth of what it means to be men and women of the church, what is happening to leadership, and what we need to be doing.
I just wanted to throw a few thoughts out there, share some things that have been discussed, and ask,
Why are all the men asleep?
We need leaders. We need MEN. The world has redefined “manhood” into spineless buffoons. Why is it in the media that it’s always the father who’s the incompetent fool played for laughs and the mother who holds the family together? Is equal rights what we think it is? Where are we getting our ideas of what is desirable and good and satisfying?
Men and women were created good. Adam and Eve were not genderless until the fall. What does that mean? It means that God had a beautiful plan that was manhood and womanhood. Adam was created first. Adam was given special responsibilities. Adam was the one given the job of naming the animals – not because God’s creative resources were exhausted, but because it was symbolic of Adam’s ownership or headship over them. He did the same with Eve. It was not until Adam ate of the fruit that the eyes of the two were opened and they knew that they had sinned.
It is because of the curse that it is now a struggle for man to provide for his family, Genesis 3: “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”
And that the woman is not satisfied with her role of submission “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
I would venture that a huge part of why the men are asleep is because the women don’t understand what an active and powerful role submission is. The men are very very slow to lead if they are not being affirmed, supported and followed in their role. Girls, when we see weak leadership our immediate reaction is often to shove our elbow in and take over, to say “This is how it should be done”. This is exactly what Genesis 3:16 is talking about. I watched a movie called “Not Easily Broken” not too long ago, a movie that I would recommend for girls, personally I don’t think I’d recommend it for guys. But the main character said something that I thought was dead on.
“Down through history, men have always been measured by how hard they worked and cultivated; how well they protected their wife and children. In the old days, woman saw their men as conquerors, providers, heroes. But somewhere along the line that changed, woman started to became their own heroes. Maybe it was because their man forgot to be reliable or because women didn’t want to be protected anymore or maybe woman had to be their own hero because of the pain they had to endure in life. But whatever the cause, the world took away a man’s reason for being a man. It told him he wasn’t important anymore and when that happened, it turned the whole world upside down.”
We need women who are supporters and encouragers. Women who have a quiet heart, who embrace their femininity as a beautiful and sacred calling, women who find their identity and security not in looks or skills or people but in who they are to and for their Savior (check out 1 Peter 3:5-6!), women who do not need to be in the limelight all the time but find joy in serving like their Savior did, in working behind the scenes and looking for their reward from their Lord. We need level-headed women who will be a refuge for their husband, who will be able to affirm him in his times of insecurity and point him back to the Lord. I don’t know if we are preparing for this very well. How trustworthy am I? Would my friends be able to trust that I will keep in confidence what they have confided in me? Gossip is the very opposite of our calling girls!
“If you a player out there, sit your tail down somewhere and grow up.” (quote by Sho Baraka) Please, the church is in desperate need of leaders. The world is in desperate need of fathers and faithful husbands and protectors. There are so many little ones growing up without men in their lives. They don’t know what a father’s love is. They don’t know what it’s like to be protected. I know some of them personally and they have broken my heart. The worst part is that when these little boys are older they will be their fathers that don’t know that they are fathers, or the fathers who only see their kids once or twice because they’re sitting in prison, unless Spirit breaks through the death cycle. They don’t know what growing up means. Do you?
Marriage and the role of man and woman is the clearest picture and example we have of Christ and the Church in this world. What we need to understand is that because of this it is one of the things that Satan abhors. He absolutely hates Christ-centered marriages. This means he will do everything he can to destroy the Biblical concept of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.
We need to fight back!! There are three practical ways we can do this that I can think of:
We need to encourage each other in our attempts to model what is pleasing to God. This could be going out of our way to make opportunities for each other to practice our roles, expressing thanks for each others strengths and less criticism of the weaknesses, sometimes rebuking each other IN LOVE for our failure to care (if you can’t do it in love please refrain or find someone else who can do it in love for you).
We need to obey Titus 2:1-8:
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you."
This is a lifestyle of discipleship. Both men and women should seek to build relationships with older and younger people, to be involved in each others’ lives to learn from each other, especially to learn from the wisdom of their elders and to train up the younger. (You will definitely learn from younger people as well though!) Don’t wait until later to look for opportunities to do this – I am pretty sure from Titus that this is supposed to be a lifestyle thing. It will make it easier to start early!
We also need to fight for our femininity and masculinity regardless of those around us. Guys, if the girls around you are annoyed when you treat them like women DON’T STOP! I’ve said it before but we will need to fight for our roles, and sometimes it may seem like we’re fighting against the opposite sex. Don’t forget – you aren’t called to be men just for the women's sake, and you aren’t called to be women just for the men’s sake. You are called to be a man or a woman because it is who God has created you to be FOR HIS GLORY.
One last thing. We will fail, many many times. We already have. But this is worth fighting for. Be encouraged – your failures have been washed away with blood. You are forgiven. We cannot do this in our own strength. (Period!) It’s all grace. Our God is worthy of all praise!
This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbQT38eY4NI (Boys!! Song by Sho Baraka)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRK7VLTTrZQ (We Could Be More song by Sho Baraka)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnN2PrIQijw (clip made about a book called “Church Planter”)---