How do you think of church? I think often the way we think of church is unhelpful, even if we have got passed it being a building we think of it as a service, or an event. But at the heart of church are committed reconciled relationships, ones which aim to apply the truth of God's word to one another's lives, to expose our sin and to display the wonder of the gospel of grace.
Popular media has cottoned on to something about men, you think of 'manly' films - Saving Private Ryan, Fight Club, and TV shows like 'Band of Brothers', 'The Pacific' what do they all have in common? A group of guys committed to one another often taking on an epic task with just each another for support.
Men need other men, men need friendship, those friendships may look very different in the way they work but men are not solitary beings, they need a band of brothers. This is largely because we need challenge; we need other people who we know are committed to our gospel good who will challenge us about our lives and any gospel gap they see there. These relationships will not be the same for every man because all man are different, the bible reflects that - Peter is a very different character from David who is very different from Elijah, who is very different from the Apostle Paul and so on. Men are different from one another and the way they relate to one another will be different but men need other men.
Men also need courageous leaders, there is a pattern in scripture of men leading men. Think again of characters like Moses, David, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul and ultimately Jesus. All courageous leaders, all leaders who lived out their lives in view of others whose passion for God was clear and who took others with them, who called people to something greater than themselves. Men need courageous leaders who will disciple them by word and example and call them to kingdom greatness.
Men also need to wake up, as the music video I linked to yesterday so eloquently said, men need to man up and take a stand for the gospel. We need men to engage in evangelism because 93% of the time if a husband comes to Christ the family follow, and yet we struggle to reach men, why because I think in large part men follow men, men follow courageous leaders and they are not finding those leaders to follow. This must make us pray 'Father God, raise up a generation of men who will contend for your name.' and recognise that we may be part of the answer to our own prayer.
We need men to engage in discipleship of one another, to form lots of little bands of brothers, fight clubs where they fight sin, apply the gospel and challenge one another to live for Christ. Because it is only God's word at work in our lives which will lead us to have a heart that is passionate and on fire for Jesus.
We need to explode the 'quiet time' mode of personal bible study. For lots of men I speak to this is off putting. Why does it have to be quiet? Why can't it be noisy and exuberant? Does it have to be on our own, why when so many people find it easier in a small group setting? We need to study God's word, to understand more of his character and heart, to know more of the wonder of the gospel and how it remakes our identity, yes! But there is no one way of doing it, God has made each of us different use that individuality to find how and when and where is best for you to get to know God. Is it outside walking in the woods, is it reading the bible or listening to it, is it written prayers, out loud prayers, sung prayers?
We are men made in Christ's image, our identity is that we are in Christ with everything that means. Yet for many of us we live with a gospel gap, we know we have been saved and justified and we know that we have a secure and glorious future kept in heaven for us, but the gospel gap is now. What does being a man in Christ look like now?
Hopeful these posts have given some food for thought, but I still think we have a lot more thinking to do about this. Be men; passionately and courageously love Christ, take risks for the gospel, apply grace daily to your relationships, establish fight clubs with other men, study God's word, and call others to join you in serving Jesus.