Monday, 16 May 2016

Man Talk

What does it mean to be a man?  What does it mean to be a Christian man?  How does an ordinary bloke, a regular guy, turn the other cheek on the street or anywhere for that matter, when society and all our instincts call for retaliation?  Do we have to subsume our masculinity to live as a Christian man, should we be consciously genteel and constantly rather nice to everyone we meet, being overly polite even to our old mates?  What on earth will our drinking buddies think of us when instead of laughing at obscene jokes, we just earnestly want to talk about our faith, between gulps of beer that is?  In short, do we have to deny our masculinity, whatever that may mean, to be a Christian man?  Do we have to pretend to be something we are not?  What about all us macho big city guys, baseball cap wearing street-smart blokes-are we really Christian material?  What about guys covered in tattoos and earrings and shaved heads and 3 day stubble?  Did Jesus really come for people like that; for people like us?  Didn’t God, after all, create all of us, not just holier-than-thou, well-to-do religious types who go to church and sing hymns on Sunday?!
Can Christian men listen to rock music; can we like Jimi Hendrix, The Who or The Doors anyway?  Just why is some music considered sacred and something else profane?  Can we only interact with other Christians?  Can we only listen to Christian music and watch Christian movies?  Do we have to eat Christian sandwiches and shop in Christian supermarkets?!  Just what does being a Christian man really mean anyway?
What does the world want of Christian men?  What does Jesus want of Christian men?  What do I want from being a Christian man?  I think, above all, I want a little honesty in my life, a little reality to shine through the fog of my life.  We allow women to be feminine, to be gentle, to reassure and speak soothingly; do we allow men to be masculine?  And I don’t just mean dominant alpha males, you know, the super-successful, the super-rich, the influential politicians who make decisions and wield power, I mean the guy on the street, the bloke who might be unemployed, the guy propping up the bar, the awkward, the loner, the misfit?  The ordinary bloke who has to struggle to get on; what does He mean to Jesus?
Jesus takes us as He finds us, in all our glorious individuality, our macho masculinity, our ‘woundedness’, our brokenness, our feelings of being lost.  What Christian men need to know, understand and come to terms with is that Jesus knows who we are; if He’s comfortable with our masculinity then we should be too.
What happens if a bloke isn’t really interested in singing hymns and Sunday worship, what happens if we struggle with the idea of being over-emotional in a church setting or we’ve never even been to a church before; is God not for us then?  Is worship reaching out, is traditional Christianity really reaching out to masculine men?  Does Jesus want Christian men to be religious stereotypes, clean shaven and wearing dark blue suits?!
Men, like you and me, need to know who the real Jesus is, because only through Him can we really understand who we are and only in Him can we begin to make sense of it all.  Jesus is big and tough enough to take on our masculinity and our awkwardness, our questioning and our misgivings, our very struggles with our often flawed masculinity.
Does Jesus know that even the hardest macho man hides behind an image, an image of toughness, to hide a tender side, a side that is hidden to the world?  Is it ok to feel doubt within, doubt that we are not sure of who we are as men?  We are brought up to be hard, cold and not to cry, and then when we are just that, we are condemned for being men!  And then if we are gentle and in tune with our emotions, we are called wimps!  When we throw off these mental chains, of all kinds, maybe, just maybe we can find out who we are as men.
Being reconciled to God means we can be reconciled to other people and as importantly we can be reconciled to ourselves; we can really find out who we are as Christian men.
God is big enough to take us as we are and He knows all about us anyway, so what’s stopping you moving towards Him?  Is the Christian life for real men or just for those who hide behind a mask; failures, losers, awkward loners, those who can’t get by in life without an emotional crutch?  Real men are often broken, broken into little bits, and we spend our lives pretending we aren’t broken and everything is fine, when it isn’t and we carry the broken bits around with us, trying in vain to put them all back together and make sense of it all; at all costs we have to be macho, or keep smiling, never letting the truth seep in, the truth of our deep and bitter brokenness; not even to God can we be honest; not even to ourselves can we be honest.
So, just what is it to be a Christian man?  Can we bring all our troubles and hopes and fears to Jesus, or what?  Can we still be real men and real Christians?  You might be surprised at the answer; if Jesus was a real man, so can we be real men!