Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506)
Sometimes, we married Believing men struggle with what it really means to be "Christlike." Recently, a man posted this question on a Christian marriage discussion site:
"How do I discern the difference between being Christ-like and being just passive?"
I thought about it for quite a while and finally wrote my 2-cents:
I used to wonder about the same thing: "Am I just supposed to roll-over on everything?" But, I've come to think of Christ (and myself) very differently and it challenges the very premise of your question. The more I study Scripture the more I'm convinced that Christ was NEVER passive, but was always active and purposeful in everything he did and said. Jesus had a plan, coordinated it with His Father in Heaven and His Holy Spirit, and executed it on a daily basis all the way to the cross and beyond.
My fleshly nature wants to put me first, wants to see me have my way, wants to see me recognized, wants to be served. All these wants are at odds with what a purposefully loving husband would want. Ken Nair nails it in his Christ Quest Institute when he says,
"the opposite of love is NOT hate, but selfishness."
So, Christlikeness is an active pursuit of selflessness and meekness. It is an incredible feeling of self-empowerment and self-discipline to know that I COULD exert my opinions, values, and desires, but purposefully decide to set them aside in favor of someone else's (especially my wife's). In a way, there is a parallel to what Jesus did when He CHOSE to set aside his Deity at the incarnation.
I think people tend to misinterpret when Jesus told His followers, "he who would be first shall be servant of all." They think Christ was threatening them for their audacity. In fact, I think He was giving them a crash course in leadership. In other words, He meant that the most important quality of someone who wants to be a leader (be first) is selfless service. This is probably the most difficult thing about being a Believer. To kill the fleshly desire to look out for myself first. The skills required to accomplish this are ANYTHING BUT passive.
A couple final thoughts about passivity: First, one of the main areas where we might be perceived as being "passive" is our response to being wronged by others. This is critical to the Believer's journey and a husband's marriage. Am I able to to exercise the spiritual muscle to forgive when wronged? Second (and related to the first), is the area of withholding judgment/condemnation. Can I be self-disciplined enough to stop myself from sinning in this way? Because it is sin. And it will be judged. You see, in this light these are not passive positions, but active, planned for responses to circumstances that will be put in our path.
What do you think?