28 – Let’s Stop Beating Up On Men
The Wrong Approach
Too often, I’m afraid, we ask men to conform to our “Christian men’s sub-culture” as a show of spirituality. “Use these buzzwords. Pray with this posture.” When this happens, we can end up asking men to be “religious” at the expense of being spiritual.
Or, we ask them to perform certain activities to show their commitment to God. “If you love God you will be in church on Wednesday night.” One man readily responds to calls for “performance” Christianity because that’s the nature of his relationship with his own dad. His dad has always made love conditional upon his son’s performance.
It’s ironic. The more we try to influence “behavior” the less real lasting change we see. Such an approach will simply burden men down and wear them out. So how can we help men experience lasting change?
Jesus, Our Example
The Message, a contemporary translation of the Bible, says, “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals” (Matthew 23:4).
In a similar way, I sense we are coming dangerously close to designing a new Christian culture that is not biblical. Instead of helping men find “spiritual” solutions, we may end up only miring them down in “man-made” rules and regulations. That would be tragic. We must do more than just ask men to conform or perform, we must reach their souls with the healing balm of the gospel.
Jesus does not say, “Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you more work to do.” Instead, He offers rest to weary travelers.
We, too, should have the perspective of our Lord when we encounter hurting men. Let’s stop being angry at men because they are not more spiritual.
Consider how the Bible describes Jesus: The Great Physician, the Teacher, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd, Living Water. Jesus is a healer and a physician. He wants to restore men. We should too.
Certainly, the Bible prescribes some things that we “ought” to do. And we should not hesitate to teach these to men. Yet, we must distinguish between “principle” and “application.” Our “possible” applications of a Biblical principle must never be touted as “necessary,” as things we “ought” to do.
Why Men Come
Men are coming to meetings like never before. There is a growing hunger among men for something real. Recently a man said, “I’m 49. I’ve achieved every worldly goal I set for myself. I have everything I need. Yet, I feel a void in my life.”
When men come to a prayer breakfast, conference, Bible study, or church, they come because they have an unmet need a “void” to be filled. They come looking for a piece of bread they can drag away that will nourish their souls. They come thirsty for living water.
Rather than showing men a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” we must show them Christ. Our job is not to “fix” their behavior. Our job is to make Christ ever more attractive so that He can do His life-transforming work in them. God’s grace changes men, not some effort on their part to be good enough. When we help men connect with Jesus, He works the change in behavior from the inside out. He changes the desires of the man. We can only give a man a new rule book; Jesus will give him a new heart.
Merit and Grace
In the late 1980s, after twelve years of walking with Christ, I still struggled with feelings of unworthiness. I didn’t consider myself good enough for God. So, I worked as hard as I could to be pleasing and acceptable in His sight. I reasoned that I was saved by faith, but it was up to me to prove God hadn’t made a mistake.
Then on March 23, 1987, during a time of private devotions, as I poured out my heart to God I was enveloped by God’s Spirit and grace. It seemed as though God was saying, “Nothing you ever do will make you good enough for Me to love you. I love you because I made you and because My Son died for you.” At that moment, His love for me moved in a supernatural way from abstract to personal. I have never been the same.
I believe this is a message that every man needs to understand. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV), “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
Here’s the key idea: “But God. . . .” But, in spite of all our sin, God, who is rich in mercy makes us alive He raises us from the dead. (After all, we were “dead” not merely comatose in our sins). We can add nothing to this, nor is anything required.
Even the faith we place in Him is a gift. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The gospel of Christ comes by grace, not works. I’m concerned that much of today’s teaching appears to make a necessity out of certain behaviors where God does not.
One speaker is even reported to say, “No works, no Jesus.” This is exactly backwards. We would do better to say, “No Jesus, no works.” In other words, our works don’t lead us to Christ. Rather, our love relationship with Christ leads us to do works as an expression of gratitude.
Let’s get back to “the 327 things you need to do to be a good Christian.” Those are good works which are the fruit of a vibrant relationship with Christ. They are important, but they are a by-product of loving God more deeply.
Let’s never succumb to demanding “religious behavior” from men by giving them a list of things that “spiritual” men do. They could end up with an outward show of religion, but without an inward conversion of soul and spirit.
They could end up performing a list of “activities” from their own strength rather than in dependence upon Christ. They could end up trying to be “good” enough based upon their own merit.
Instead, let’s tell men that when they draw closer to Christ, these are “the 327 things” they can expect to see changing in their lives. But only by His grace.
1. Have you experienced a good-hearted Bible teacher unthinkingly making a necessary “ought” out of a possible “application” of a biblical principle? Have you ever done so yourself? Why is this dangerous?
2. Do you live under a load of false guilt for all the things you have been led to believe you “ought” to do? If so, why not thank Jesus in prayer that He has promised to rebuild you from the inside out (Romans 8:29). Remember, while you must respond to His grace in obedience, it is nevertheless His grace that changes us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Drink deeply of His love and grace.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1996. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.