** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **
According to Chandler
A little while ago I wrote a post about some sermons on manhood from Matt Chandler. My reflections for today, on being a man, are largely taken from the content of the first sermon in that series: Defining Masculinity. If you are a man or know a man, I highly recommend you give it a listen.
Chandler helped me by setting our identity as men in the creation account of Genesis 1-2. As he describes the narrative unfolding, he details how God creates the whole wild world, with a beautifully ordered garden (Eden), then places man in the middle of the garden and says, ‘Now make the rest of the world like this.’
Obviously there’s more to the story than that, but the simplicity of that perspective was helpful for me. He laid out the inner competitiveness and creativeness and ambition in man (which drives the rat race the whole world ’round) within the framework of ‘subduing’ and ‘ordering’ and ‘ruling over’ the created world. That’s what we were created for, and that’s what drives us as men, whether we know it or not.
The trouble, of course, is that in Genesis 3 man didn’t keep his world in order, but allowed chaos and disorder to rule (beginning with his own relationship with his wife when he abdicated his authority position when she was being tempted). The result of Adam’s disobedience is that now the whole world falls into complete disorder (including his own heart). All is subject to futility.
His work will be hard, and filled with failure. But he is still called to it nonetheless. And, as Chandler draws out, even the futility becomes evidence of God’s grace to us as the futility of our work is what drives us to call out to God for his mercy in the gospel.
A Guiding Framework
What has been so helpful to me is the guiding framework that this gives to my life as a man. As a man, I am charged with bringing order to my world. I must subdue my realm. So when I don’t know what to do, what decisions to make, what direction to take for my family, or my church, I fall back on this thought: I cam called to set all things in order. All things that are under my charge should be under my control.
And when I lack motivation to mow the lawn, discipline my kids, make things right with my wife, or make peace between relationships in the church, I remember that it is the calling of a man to subdue his realm, to put all things in order. Yes, there are challenges, frustrations, and failures, but having this simple, unifying direction for my life has been helpful.
The Big Biblical Picture
Of course this is all very simple. And yet, somehow, I spent the first 30 years of my life not really having the penny drop.
God created the world and ‘ordered’ it. He commanded man, his ‘son’, made in his image, to bring all things under submission to him. But after the first Adam and every man after him failed, a second Adam, the True Image of God had to come, to inherit all authority (Matt 28.19-20), and by his death and resurrection to have all things subjected to him. The end of this creation will come …
when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15.24-28)
So the beginning is Adam called to subdue his realm, but failing. The end of the story is the second Adam reigning over all things, subduing even death — the greatest enemy. And we men are called now to live in the in between, still living with the futility of the curse all around us, but called by God to bring peace and order as we reign with Christ and bring his rule to pass, even now.
From cover to cover the Bible calls me to subdue my realm. That sounds like a manly challenge. May God give grace to make me faithful and diligent.