Monday, September 27, 2010

P4E.182 Ecce Homo

There's been a lot of discussion recently about what makes a man a MAN. Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA was given space in The Washington Post last month for an article which he entitled "The world is filled with boys who can shave." Driscoll's article was a response to an earlier New York Times Magazine article called "What Is It About 20-Somethings?" The July issue of Esquire magazine was titled "How to Be a Man." Finally (for my purposes), in response to the Esquire article, Christianity Today ran an on-line article last month titled "How to be a man? Turn to the Bible."

The Christianity Today article asks the questions "What does it mean to be a man today? Is it determined by what we consume, or by the clothes we wear or the gadgets and gizmos we use?" The article featured the thoughts of Nick Bogardus, Director of PR/Media Relations at Mars Hill Church. He insightfully says "The truth is, culture has ceased being able to define manhood..." and  "A man isn't going to be able to base his life on what he can buy with a credit card." as well as "...we need more men to look to Jesus and the Bible for answers to the question of what it means to be a man."

In the Washington Post article Driscoll flounders, saying things like, "The artsy, techie metrosexual types consume clothes, decaf lattes, shoes, gadgets, cars (not trucks), furniture, hair products, and underwear with the names of very important people on the waistband. For them, manhood means being in touch with one's feelings, wardrobe, and appearance." Eventually, he gets to his point: "Men, you are to be creators and cultivators. God is a creator and a cultivator and you were made to image him. Create a family and cultivate your wife and children. Create a ministry and cultivate other people. Create a business and cultivate it. Be a giver, not a taker, a producer and not just a consumer."

What I find surprisingly missing from the dialogue coming from Christian circles, is a spiritual value system. This is perhaps indicative of where the American church finds itself in relation to our culture. We have striven so hard to be "relevant" that we have begun to define ourselves in the culture's terms. Later in the Christianity Today article, Bogardus concludes that men need to know "more about who they are to protect and defend, what truth is, what righteousness is, and what justice is." Frankly, this sounds more like the definition of a comic book superhero than it does the spiritual man. As I said in P4E.008, "If you think that Christ came to fight for "truth, justice and the American way" you are confusing Him with a fictional superhero."

So what does it mean to be a Christian man? We will do well if we do as Bogardus says and look to Jesus for answers. Jesus encouraged us to use a spiritual value system. He said "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." When Driscoll encourages us to be creators and cultivators of families and ministries and businesses, he's using a worldly/fleshly value system even if he's talking about things that have value in church society. When Bogardus places emphasis on protecting and defending and truth, righteousness and justice, it sounds more like worldly politics than spiritual understanding.

What Christian men don't want to acknowledge is that, by definition, it would be a very rare event to achieve worldly success and spiritual success simultaneously. In a fleshly sense, when Pontius Pilate declared "Ecce Homo," he presented a Christ that had been stripped, scourged, and crowned with thorns. He presented a thoroughly beaten man with no prospects other than to be crucified. A dead man walking. But, in a spiritual sense, he presented an incredibly powerful man. One who was willing to die for others. A servant leader in complete self-control. A man. My man. My hero. My role model. My Savior.

As Christian men, we don't want to hear that we are called to follow Christ and die to ourselves. That we also are called to crucify our egos. That we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. That we are called to serve, not to be served. We wonder, "what good will it do if I die? Who will replace me?" The answer is a spiritually "re-born" man. A man who will produce the fruit of the Spirit. A man who will continue to die to himself every day and put other's interests before his own. It's a tough sell, but there it is. In a worldly sense, this man is a loser. He's considered a nice guy and you know what happens to them. But, in a spiritual sense this man is an incredibly powerful man. One who is willing to die to himself for others. A servant leader in complete self-control.
A man.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fabulous article, rich in detail and application. Your conclusion that the only effective man is a dead man is amazingly poignant and something I will think about long and hard.