So here’s an idea. In this advent season, let’s look forward to the coming of Christ, Immanuel, God with us, by actually looking at the life of Christ and not the machismo charicature that He has become for so many.
I spoke with a student this past week struggling to figure out what it means to be a godly man. He tells of growing up being told not to cry, ever. Being told to “man up”. He talked about this being reinforced by his youth leaders and even now as he is a college student and serving as a volunteer. His gut reaction to much of what he is reading is that it sounds right, but it is so against what he already holds to be true. He was asking me what he should now pass on to the boys with whom he is working because he no longer knows what he believes about being a “man of God”. He doesn’t want to screw them up by encouraging an unrealistic, emotionally stunted identity nor does he think God wants them to be emotional, vulnerable and sensitive. Not sure why those are the only two options, but this is where he is.
I couldn’t help but to think of my student when I read an article this morning on the tragic deaths of Javan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins. Still clearly not knowing what took place in this tragedy, the author offers a bit of speculation from his experience. His experience told him that to be a man was to be strong, a warrior, to not cry, to “man up”. This is strikingly like what I so often hear from male teenagers and early twenty somethings and what they have learned from the church and culture. (See John Eldridge, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Erwin McManus etc.) These young men are trying to live this hyper-masculine identity and they just aren’t cutting it. They feel like frauds trying to live into who they are not but are afraid that they won’t be man enough if they reject the flat archetype.
As Christmas approaches and we talk of Jesus coming, perhaps we talk about all of who He was as he walked this earth AND who He is as we seek to imitate Him. A baby is weak and precious. A baby is vulnerable yet can hold the attention of a crowd. In the weakness of a baby, the strength of world is held.
II Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.