Dr. Andy Bannister, from the Solas Centre For Public Christianity (U.K.), was recently asked in an interview what he thought the greatest challenge for the Church in 2022 was. Of the three things he was invited to list he placed courage as the first and most pressing challenge. He stated that many Christian and church leaders had retreated in trepidation over the past few years in the face of an increasingly aggressive culture becoming confused about environmentalism, gender distinctions, and human sexuality which regarded Christianity as its enemy. His colleague, Dr. Aaron Edwards concurred with Andy’s assessment and lamented that so few men have the temerity to take a stand for truth. If these Christian thinkers are correct, how can we respond to this “most pressing issue for the Church in 2022”? Would you like to be more courageous? At what points in your life would you have particularly liked to have been more courageous? God’s Word describes dozens of people who found courage after applying the two spiritual principles for finding it. But of all those mentioned in the Bible, one person in particular displayed more courage than most and exemplified the spiritual principles for doing so.
Paul concludes his ‘first’ epistle to the Corinthians by speaking directly to the men of the Church. It is clear that the Holy Spirit has preserved this for the benefit of all Christian men. It is my hope that the men of our church can exemplify what Paul told these Corinthian men.
¶ Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love.
First Corinthians 16:13
Dr. Gordon Fee notes that the imperative (something which must be done) is written in “military language” to men. Be watchful is a military term. It echoes God’s first command to the first man to guard and keep the garden (of Eden) (Gen. 2:15). Men are thus called to use their strength to protect, not harm, women and children. Secondly, stand firm in the faith is also a military term echoing how a soldier must act when under attack from the enemy. They are to hold their position. Men are to do this when it comes to spiritual truth — despite what the cancel-cultured crowd says. Act like men reinforces the original creation mandate for men to use their God-given strength to muster the courage to be watchful and defend the truth, the right, and the good — especially when it involves the vulnerable. But, Paul concludes, men must not do this in an ugly fashion. They must be watchful, resolute, defending the truth/right/good, by using their strength, in a loving way. The greatest example of this Biblical revelation of manhood was Jesus the Christ, The Man (referred to by Paul in the previous chapter to the Corinthians as “the second Adam” (1Cor. 15:45), “the second Man” (1Cor. 15:47), “the Man from Heaven” (1Cor. 15:48). Jesus is literally, the Man. Every man should look to Jesus as the ultimate example of manhood. And this is my aspiration for my life and my pastoral hope for every man in our church — to act like men! This is something that Count Nicklaus van Zinzendorf and his band of Moravian missionaries were able to promote among the men of the community, which is yet another reason why admire him so much.
I love tennis. I’ve been to Wimbledon several times. While I think there are many reasons why the Australian Open is the best run of any of the 4 Majors, Wimbledon is still my favourite. Each of the Majors are quite different, but the differences between the US Tennis Open and The Championships (Wimbledon) are stark. Firstly, the demeanour of the crowds. It’s common for gentlemen spectators attending The Championships to come wearing suits and ties, and ladies to attend in elegant summer frocks. The English crowds are relatively reserved and offer polite claps in appreciation of the players’ efforts. The New York crowds to the US Open are often rowdy and frequently asked to be silent by the umpire. Secondly the way the players are addressed. At the US Open, the players compete in the Men’s or Women’s tournament draws. At The Championships, the players enter the Ladies or Gentlemen tournament draws. I wonder how many realise the significant difference the two sets of designations? My wonderment is partly fuelled by the alarming rate of “suicides of despair” (a term which has recently been coined to describe the trend of suicide particularly among young men, and increasingly, now, among young women, who have expressed their despair at living a pointless life). My contribution to solving this crises is not unique or original. It involves giving young men and women a vision worthy of giving the entire lives to. It the vision of being a lady or a gentleman…