Man – Biblical Manliness
About a month ago I got the chance to go to a youth convention with a couple of teenagers from my youth group. It was in Houghton, New York. There were plenty of things to remember, and a number of them to forget. Memories were made and I am hoping that there is at least some significant impact of the trip that each person who went will be able to carry with them through their life. There were general rallies that we went to as well as a couple of seminars. It is one of these seminars that stuck out to me quite a bit. The focus of the seminar was “Biblical Manliness.” The name of the speaker was Jon Ward. I personally thought that he was a great speaker and has some good points to bring up. I tried to take some notes as he was speaking and hopefully now a month later I can take a look at them and formulate some good thoughts to go with them. Hopefully the connections that I make with my notes are relatively close to the points that he was trying to convey.
Three things that man needed.
The first thing that God created man to do was worship. A part of this worship was management by walking around. Man himself walked around in God’s created perfect world. He could praise God for all the creation and for giving him life as well as being created uniquely in God’s image. However, another part of this worship by management by walking around was by God himself walking with the man. There are verses that indicate that God had a very real presence in the Garden of Eden. This would have caused Adam to have no choice but to worship such a magnificent being.
The second thing that man needed was something to do, or work. While God had created the world and he looked around and called it perfect and good, he also apparently saw that the Garden could be improved by the work of man. This is perhaps because man is made in God’s image, allowing him to do things like God would do them, or with godly inspiration (remember, at this point Adam too was perfect and without sin). During the seminar it was made known that work should not be one with worship. There is a distinct difference. However, our work should serve God, and thus become worshipful. The things that we do every day with our lives should bring glory to God. Hence Paul saying everything should be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Additionally, Jon Ward said that we should always be taking care of God’s creation. This means the earth, the animals, and other people. All these things God created and should be respected as such. Now, taking care of the Garden was specifically a task that God had given to Adam, and taking care of the planet should still be a priority, Ward suggest (and I agree) that perhaps evangelism has taken top priority. As Christians, it is now our responsibility to take care of other people that God has created, especially those who do not yet know him as Lord.
The third thing that God noticed was that it was not good for man to be alone. A couple of months ago I preached a sermon on this concept (It is Not Good to Be Alone). The biggest revelation for me was that God recognized that the relationship that he had with Adam, though it was perfect and good, was not enough for the man. He needed a partner, or a helper. He needed another person to be around that was like him. This means that we need to make sure that we are spending time with other people.
Women and Husbands
Now, Ward had some awesome things to say on the topic of women. First, it is clear that he did not support the idea that women were any less than a man or that they should be denied the same rights as a man (think women in ministry here). He says specifically that these ideas come from mistranslations and misunderstandings of the Bible. I thought that one of his primary arguments here was great. He says that God created Eve and she was referred to as a “helper.” The Hebrew word for this is `ezer (or more literally if you will, עָזַר). Ward points out that this word is used two times to refer to Eve. However, it is used four times to refer to a strong ally, and twelve times to refer to God himself. Just think about that for a little bit.
He then moved on to the concept of a husband. He says that the obvious similar word was husbandry. This means nurturing, caring, and feeding (you know, like an animal husbandry). What this means for the woman and the man is that he is supposed to create the greatest environment for potential for the women to thrive. Kind of gives a different way to look at marriage than you might see in some television shows.
Boys and Men
In conclusion, Ward took a look at the differences between a boy and a man. He says that a boy in general is completely focused on himself. He is looking for the things that will give him the most pleasure and fun as easily and as quickly as possible. If you think about it, most of us might be able to think of a number of 30+ year old boys. The boy stage is supposed to be transitional. His dependences on his parents and others is supposed to lead to independence. This in turn will yield interdependence, or on two parties (husband and wife) mutually relying on each other. Thus, when a boy becomes a true man, he becomes a person who is completely focused on God. A man is completely focused on God and his ways and making sure that his family is following suit.
This seminar touched on a lot of great things when it came to how boys are different than men. Jon Ward laid some great foundations for biblical manliness. Being a pastor, I had my own ideas as to what he might talk about to a bunch of teenagers at a youth convention. However, I was pleasantly surprised and was definitely able to grasp on to some good thoughts myself. I hope this post helps you to see some of ideas in regard to biblical manliness. What other things do you think should fall into the category of biblical manliness? Leave a comment below!