If you haven’t been by to visit the site The Art of Manliness, you should. It’s entertaining, informative, and portrays some of the very misconceptions we have of what it means “to be a man.” We just recently honored dads by celebrating Father’s Day, a day of saying ‘thanks’ as well as highlighting what it means to be manly.
There is not much debate around the belief that Jesus was a man. His example of “manliness” might be another story. [SECRET: the characteristics I’m about to mention transcend gender because that’s how “manly” Jesus is and yet we still hold these misconceptions about what it means to be a man.] Jesus has a way of taking things that seem to make sense, ie. hating our enemies, and turning them upside down, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I can’t help but wonder if Jesus is doing the same thing with a couple of these characteristics…
Strength: often times we perceive strength as lots of muscles, not a lot of issues, and no tears. It is being physically, mentally, and emotionally strong. The inability to push weight, a struggle with depression, or showing hurt is considered weakness. Jesus demonstrates strength as humility (Philippians 2:1-11). Is it possible that one of the best ways to demonstrate strength is to live humbly? Living with true humility requires strength, if you’re not sure, just give it a try.
Confidence: when an individual is assertive, decisive, and even aggressive, we tend to think of him or her as being confident. Confidence is something many of us desire to have or gain more. Our culture sees confidence as one of the keys to empowering ourselves to act, speak, and succeed. Submission is seen as the very opposite and yet it seems as though Jesus demonstrates confidence through submission. Check out John 13:1-5, 12-17. The confidence Jesus found in knowing who he was and whose he was empowered him to perform an act reserved for servants, getting down in the dust to wash his disciples feet. This is confidence as submission. What if we were so confident of who we are in Christ, that it gave us the freedom to serve any and all?
Courage: situations can arise where we feel forced to react or respond in some way. Sometimes it is the pressure of those around us that cause us to feel this way. The willingness to act without hesitation or fear is seen as bravery. One of my favorite passages in John’s gospel has Jesus demonstrating courage in a slightly different way. In John 8:2-11 we see Jesus being painted into a corner by a crowd wanting to hear and see him react. Instead, Jesus takes our perception of courage and flips it on its head by taking a step back and showing patience. In the midst of the sudden chaos he was able to stop, think, and respond with wisdom and grace. The amount of courage it must have taken to give the time needed is an important model for us. It takes courage to show patience, which often leads to wisdom. What might our relationships and interactions look liked if we had the courage to live in patience?
There are plenty of other misconceptions we have that Jesus challenges us to rethink but these were three that seemed fitting to highlight. As always, your feedback is welcome.
*Click here if you would like to hear the sermon on this topic.