Welcome back to this series on Manhood. Today we’re looking at the CORE CHARACTERISTIC of Manhood. This is central. Everything else flows from it. Before we dig in, I wanted to let you know (if you didn’t) about David Murray’s Christian Man Academy. David blogs over at Head Heart Hand, and this new undertaking, I’m sure, will be the go-to place for Biblical input/resources on Christian masculinity. So, now, back to the task at hand.
At the heart of every real man must be a heart of worship towards God. But, I have to clarify that statement in two ways. First, what do I mean by “worship” and, second, what do I mean by “God.”
What comes to mind when you think of worship? When I ask this, time and again the answer is almost always something that I do. I bow down. I sing a song. I clap my hands. I give money. And those things are certainly an outworking of worship. But, we want to beware of worshiping like those Jesus (quoting Isaiah) rebuked: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Going to church, sharing your faith, preaching, praising, and even our day to day work CAN be worship, but only if it flows from a heart of worship, of delight and love for God.
I’m not talking about ecstatic experiences or goose bump praise. I’m not asking if you enjoy worship, singing, etc. I’m asking if you ENJOY GOD! Look at these few samples from the Psalms. How did David and others feel about God?
PSALM 73.25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
PSALM 27.4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire[a] in his temple.
PSALM 42.1-2 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
This is the language of a lover. Imagine if I called my wife and said: “Whom have I but you? Who else could I ever want? I want to gaze upon you. I want to be with you. When can I see you?” Whew! That’s passionate, deep affection.
I love to read the Puritans. Men like Jonathan Edwards, Richard Sibbes, and Thomas Goodwin. The way the talk about Jesus makes me say, “Really? Is Jesus really that good!?!?!” But, he is. And friends, these are men speaking of their unashamed affection for Christ. Do you get carried away as you think about and talk about the beauty of Jesus? Due to cultural shifts, it’s now considered unmanly to speak affectionately about another man, even Jesus, our God and Savior. And it’s to our shame and our loss.
If Jesus weren’t in heaven, would you want to go? I hope not. While this series doesn’t have the time or space to unpack the depths of our salvation, let’s see quickly what Jesus says in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Do you see it? Eternal life is KNOWING God.
The Christian doesn’t just want forgiveness or righteousness. No! We want God. We delight in God. We never want to be parted from God. He is our beloved, the lover of our souls! Heaven, whatever treats it may hold, without Jesus, would be no paradise at all. Worship of God means nothing less than a heart level love of God. A warm affection for God.
And that has everything to do with the answer to the second clarification. When I say men should, at their core, be worshippers of God, who do I have in mind when I say “God.” What God am I talking about.
Now, you may think, “Schell, I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure I know who God is.” But, do you? Let’s be clear because what we have said and will say about manhood means that not just any god will do. Because we will become like what we worship. Take these gods for example:
- So, if the god I worship created mankind because he needed them (ancient Greek gods for instance), then I will become a needy, self-serving man who demands that others exist to fulfill me.
- If I worship a god who created mankind, but now keeps his distance (the god of Islam for example), I will be a detached man who produces something (perhaps work, a child, a family) but then stands apart from it as if it must now continue without me.
- If I believe creation comes from an accident (new-age spiritualism, most forms of evolutionary theory, Gnosticism), then it doesn’t matter how I live. In this view, the fact that I’m a man is an accident any way.
- Finally, if I believe that creation isn’t a reality (Buddhism, Hinduism), but is a mirage, a façade, then my life isn’t real either, so the best thing I can do is ignore reality and spend my days seeking nirvana – whatever self-actualization plan I prefer. I will check out on my responsibilities because I don’t really believe in reality.
Does that sound silly? Think about the cultures that have grown up around those belief systems. What kind of men did it produce? Were the Spartans known for their Christ-like, self-sacrificing, benevolence? Does Islam seem to produce a society that is a paragon of love and mutual service between genders? I may be generalizing, but they are true generalities. So, when a man worships his work or accomplishments, money, sex, or any other heart-idol, we shouldn’t be surprised when he become a detached man, a selfish man, a boy in a man’s body, or a devil.
However, if I believe in the God of Christianity, the Triune God, I have a God that is altogether different. He is real. He created with intentionality. He created not out of need but out of love. He created and then didn’t run away but remains active in the world. He takes all responsibility for what has been, what is, and what will be. And if I’ve been made in His image – to do his works, think his thoughts, and represent Him in the world – that makes all the difference. AND, get this, when I see Him as He is, He is so delightful, so attractive, so breath-taking that I want to be a worshiper of THAT God!
In the next post I’ll unpack that last paragraph, but I’d love to hear your thoughts so far!