For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55
Yesterday, walking the dog on a cold, damp, overcast afternoon, I took stock of my situation, and I just had to shake my head in wonder at how good life is.
I was walking Scout because I work at home, able to enjoy the luxury of stepping away from my desk to grab 20-minutes of fresh air and exercise when my brain fogs up. Our neighborhood is quiet, with treelined sidewalks and a handy park we can swing through. There’s something refreshing about having to wear a jacket, don a hat, and walk briskly to stay warm. I arrived back home with a couple of great thoughts percolating to get the next stage of my writing into gear.
The afternoon called for coffee; so set a pot to brewing, grabbed my laptop, and got back to work right there at the kitchen counter. And the words flowed easily, almost willingly, as if the sentences were already formed, gathered, and waiting for me to set them down.
This is my newest project, and it has emerged out of a good year-long conversation with men’s ministry leaders from several denominations. I’m writing a short study along with small-group guide around this question: “If we believe that we are made in the image of God, then what does that look like in a Christian man?”
SEXISM & MORE: Over the past couple of decades, Christianity has seen a lot written, taught, and preached about so-called “manly” behavior, and there’s been a strong movement in much of men’s ministry around, “male authority,” “claiming the man’s leadership role in the family,” “man as warrior,” “machismo,” “aggression,” “just say no to women’s liberation,” and “men in charge.”
To many – self included – this has all come across as one more way to roll the clock back socially, promoting sexism, chauvinism, bullying, and even misogyny; a reversion to the “Boys Only Club” approach to religion, politics, and business.
A NEW LOOK: So I am taking a close look at the idea that we are made in the image of God, that Jesus is the best example possible of what God’s image looks like in a human being, and that Christ’s first disciples also have a lot to teach us when it comes to “manly” ideals and behavior.
It turns out that Twenty-first Century American Christian men have a lot to learn when it comes to bearing the image of God as represented in Christ. Jesus taught and demonstrated qualities such as compassion, vulnerability, courage, purpose, integrity, and love.
So again, this morning, I find myself sitting in front of the big bay window in the kitchen, sipping fresh coffee and reading God’s good word. It’s not raining, yet, so I may take a lap around the park when I finish these thoughts. Then I’ll get into editing the next chapter of my new book, still incredulous at the idea that my Creator has called me to this task, grateful and a little overwhelmed with joy, trusting that God will use it all for his great purposes.