The world we live in sure has ways of defining what it is to be a man. If we were to watch enough commercials for beer, we would discover that apparently real men drink a lot of beer, hide out in their sports memorobilia man-cave that is actually made of beer cans, and often have the intelligence quotient of the hops in the beer.
Other pictures of manhood might teach us that we are truly a man when we can beat someone up or physically dominate them. You know the type - they feel they have to have on a piece of "TapOut" gear at all times so nobody mistakes them for a sissy. Or the guy who is probably a few twinkies beyond his prime but still feels compelled to always sport self-scissored sleeveless shirts. In the winter. While snowblowing his driveway.
But until we get away from being pressed into the mold of the world, we just won't see manhood and masculinity for what it should be. And like anything else, there really is only one way to define masculinity - through the reality of Jesus. Jesus is perfect masculinity, and when we look to the His life and His death, we see that reality come to life.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11
Ultimately, this is the picture of masculinity - Jesus. And Jesus' masculinity could be summarized in two words from this passage:
Servanthood and Humility.
That's not a picture that the world wants to paint of masculinity. It just doesn't seem powerful enough. But think about it. All the things that we desire in being a man - heroism, courage, sacrifice - all of these are subsets of humility and servanthood. Truth is, if all we desire to be as men are guys who are heroic, courageous, and sacrificial, then we are missing the mark. Because these aspects of nobility need to have a foundation - a context. And I suggest that as we look at Jesus we find that context to be Jesus acting heroically, courageous, and sacrificial because of his humility before the Father and His willingness to be the Father's servant and a servant of the world.
In fact, it doesn't take too long in our reading of the gospels to have Jesus spell out for us what the Father thinks is great. I would encourage you to read the first gospel - Matthew - and there you will find (in Matthew 20:20-28 and Matthew 23:5-12) Jesus teaching us what the Father considers "great." Guess what you will find? Humility and Servanthood.
Humility and servanthood are strong, not weak. Any weak man can serve himself. It takes Jesus Strong to serve God and others. Any weak man can boast about himself and his accomplishments. It takes Jesus Strong to boast only in the cross. Humility and servanthood are the essence of strength, not the demonstration of weakness.
But, these traits of humility and servanthood can easily be corrupted and co-opted, and they often are. That's what we will talk about next post.