|Posted by thethousandmarch on January 29, 2012 at 7:30 PM|
This post is a follow up to my last two posts.
I just happened to see this clip on youtube of Francis Chan admonishing men to act like men, which got me thinking. www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAe5ULE8n_4
Then I saw this clip of Mark Driscoll yelling at the men in his congregation to act like men and it really made me angry. Actually first it made me laugh, because I could scarcely take in the absurdity of it. Then as I thought about it I got angry. After seeing this video I conclude that Driscoll does not understand the the extent of his own depravity, or the breadth of God’s love. Quite plainly I don’t think Mark Driscoll understands the Gospel. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkaeAkJO0w8
I had to write something, not only in response to these videos, but to other comments made by Driscoll.
Now, I understand what Chan is trying to get at, and I agree that we as Christians, both men and women, need to take responsibility for our actions and yes, we serve a strong God and we can trust in him. However, it is in no way helpful to tell men to just “act like a man”. I can’t, Chan can’t, no one can simply choose to make themselves act like a man. Shaming men may produce some results, but not a real change of heart. Only the Spirit can produce real fruit, and we will certainly fail if the Spirit does not only just help us, but does not actually work through us.
The Christian life has nothing to do with the kind of manliness our culture glories in and which, unfortunately, so many pastors seem to confuse with what it means to be a real man of God. Real men are not boastful and arrogant; they do not lord it over others; they are not self-seeking; they are not quick to anger; they are in fact submissive; and they do not have to be able to beat anyone up, be a good athlete, or be capable of becoming an Airborne Ranger. Being a man has nothing to do with our cultural stereotypes about what is manly and what is “effeminate”. When we insist upon such things we reinforce these stereotypes which alienate and shame men just because they don’t fit into our narrow little definition of what a real man is. So, first off let’s stop trying to make Christianity “macho”. Which is not the same as saying let’s make Christianity “effeminate”. If we make our church into a place in which proud men are allowed to remain proud, we may have a big congregation, but we don’t necessarily have a church which belongs to Jesus.
And now I come to my main point, and my main objection to both Chan and Driscoll. We men are incapable of fashioning ourselves into real men of God. We are incapable of being manly enough, even if we are the manliest men around. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we berate ourselves, no matter how much someone else shames us, we cannot make ourselves men of God. And doing our best impression of a man, acting like one, may win other men’s approval, but it cannot win God’s.
I would like to know which men Chan is referring to in the Bible that he would like to be like. I can only think of a handful who did not display major faults and have major failures. The majority of them were cowards, liars, fools, cheats, adulterers, murderers – all sinners like their father Adam. What would Driscoll have to say to King David? He was a man who was a great warrior, but also a murderer, adulterer and in general, not a very good father. Would he scream at David for abusing Bathsheba? What did David say once he recognized his sin?
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; . . . For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51:1,3-4)
It is against God we have sinned and to him we must give account. And what has he done? He sent his Son Jesus, who willingly undertook the task set before him, to save us from our sins by taking the punishment for them upon himself, so that we may be reconciled to God, set free from the power of sin and death and ultimately made completely whole. In union with Jesus we are declared good children of God.
I will admit that I am a coward, a fool. I am like my father Adam, and though I’d like to be like God I am not. I am not impressive, responsible, noble, or respectable – certainly not in any regard. I’m not successful. I have no dignity, nor masculinity – I certainly have no excuse for my sin. Spiritually I am a little boy and I can’t “man up” no matter how hard I try. That’s why I needed to be rescued by the God of the universe. That is why I go to a church where we confess our sin to the Most Merciful God every week. Amongst other things we say,
We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us . . . .
Following this confession each week the pastor then declares,
Hear the voice from heaven: “You are My own, My beloved.” God gives power to the weary and strengthen the powerless. Be cleansed, be healed, for in the name of + Jesus Christ, I declare to you the forgiveness of your sins and the revealing of God’s reign.
Each Sunday I go to a church where I can receive the body of my savior broken for me, and I drink his blood poured out for my sins. Yet, just like the disciples, who took that first communion and then failed their Lord, I too fail and require restoration. I am a failure. Thankfully, “we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
I am a joke and so are you, Mark Driscoll. We are all jokes, and, there is only one Man who picked up our mess.