"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
- John 3:16-17
We've all seen this verse before. It's likely the most well-known verse in the entire Bible. It's a verse we often quote and look to as an expression of the incredible love of God.
But, what does it say about manhood? Nothing? Look again.
It may feel harder than ever in these times to understand what makes a man. Is it power, wealth, maturity, a 401k, owning a house? Left to ourselves, it seems "manhood" would be defined by what our surrounding culture tells us a man is. Living in that paradigm might lend some markers to manhood, but I would be left unsure. So many things the world tells me define me as a man seem out of my control, out of grasp. I cannot will myself to own a home (anytime soon), have a huge bank account, lead others, succeed in achieving all my life's ambitions and dreams. These are circumstances I may find myself in as a man, but they do not define me. We all understand that these things don't define us, but we often act as if they do.
There are a ton of qualities that a true man, we could say, must possess: integrity, honesty, humility, compassion, strength. None of us would argue that these are not good things; indeed, they are. But do they define a man? What actually defines a man? It's a good thing we are not left to discover this for ourselves...
Jesus was the man. I mean, he was THE man. He also happened to be God. Not a bad combo for a role-model. Let's look at what he had to offer.
In John 3:16-17 we see that God loved the world, he valued it. The first point to note is that God loves. God is love. But there is a problem. In verse 16 the Word says that without his Son we would perish. He desired that we would not perish, so what does he do? He saves us. He, Jesus, takes responsibility for my problem. God would have been well within his rights to say, "not my death, not my problem." But he doesn't. He moves. He acts. Why does he do this? To give life. Jesus came in an act of love to save for the benefit of life. Jesus is a life-giver. He is not a consumer, he is not passionate about receiving what the world can offer him, but with what he can offer the world... and this is life.
This is our model. As men, we must be committed to lovingly give of ourselves in service as an act of life-giving to others. Now, you and I are not in the place of savior. Jesus is the savior. So what do we do? We lovingly give of ourselves to others that they may have life in Jesus Christ. This boils down to two things that I are easily understood: 1. Take responsibility for yourself and for others. A man doesn't pass the buck, in fact he might even ask for it. 2. Be a producer of life-giving fruit that blesses others. Don't be a consumer, sucking the life/resources of others. Tall order, huh? Yep. Sounds impossible for me.
It's a good thing scripture says this:
"With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."
- Mark 10:27
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
- 2 Peter 1:3-8
God has chosen us by the witness and act of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit to point others towards Jesus, the giver of life.
You can focus on attaining manhood all you want. But, you can become a "man" and look nothing like Jesus. But if you come to look like Jesus, I think you'll find that you are a man.
God has given us a world to enjoy. I truly believe we are to enjoy our food and drink, our jobs, our friends and families. We can take pleasure in the fruits of this world. But if the pleasures of this world come even close to surpassing the blinding glory of God in our eyes, we are missing it. We must be men who desire God's glory above all else. This is a tall, difficult order. But we find our most epic example of this in action in Jesus' death. He died that life would come. We too must die to ourselves and receive true life from the life-giver. This is a life of freedom. We are no longer slaves to our ambitions, to the pressure to succeed. We find true freedom in the giving-up. I can't do it. You can't do it. But, God can... let's let him do it. Let's give him the glory, I don't deserve it and if I had it I wouldn't know what to do with it.
P.S. If we want to look like Jesus, guess what, we need to get to know who he is.
Written: February 3, 2011
Written: February 3, 2011