Worst Fears

What is your worst fear?

I’m not asking about what you’re afraid of. I’m afraid of plenty. Just yesterday some close friends of mine were having a ball with the fact that I’m terrified of spiders and really bugs in general. I’m not a fan.

I’m asking what is your worst plausible fear.

For many of us it would be the unexpected loss of a family member, the loss of health, the loss of relationships, the pain of a child. School shootings. Natural disasters. Cancer. These things bring fear to our hearts and minds.

Now, what if a combination of all of these horrible fears came to fruition in a day?

It would probably lead you to say something like this:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil. – Job 3:25-26

The third chapter of Job is when Job begins to let it all out before God. In the first two chapters, he has shown exemplary faith (Receiving Bad From God) while having his world rocked by unjust, abject suffering. Now he is ready to tell God how he feels about the situation.

If you’re like me, you probably read the first two chapters with an air of annoyance. You start to feel like Job is a superhero, a super Christian, only ever praising God. The third chapter humanizes him no doubt. He is still not walking in consistent, unrepentant sin, but he lets his emotions come pouring out. I strive to teach my students regularly that God is more than capable of listening to and bearing your emotions. To hide from Him how you really feel about any given situation is not only unnecessary, but impossible due to His omniscience. Job worships, but he also wrestles.

We too can both worship and wrestle with God at the same time.

In Job’s wrestling, we see that there are some aspects of his heart that still need to be worked on, still need to be molded by the grace of God. As I’ve written about earlier in this study (A Man Named Job), Job had a karma-like view of God to some extent. He consistently sacrificed offerings to the Lord (that weren’t mandated by God) in order to protect his children from harm. It’s a noble idea, but it’s one that has a quid pro quo view of God just under the surface. If Job gave offerings to God, then surely God would keep his children safe.

Now, Job is facing the reality that all of his good deeds and good intentions did nothing to prevent him from suffering. His worst fears were being realized, and his gut reaction is to curse the very day of his birth. Reading through the book of Job is like reading the innermost thoughts of those in our churches and in our communities that are facing incredibly difficult circumstances. Job, a follower of God, curses the day of his birth, repeatedly saying he wishes he had never been born, for that would be better to him than the suffering he was going through.

That’s a level of pain I’ve honestly never experienced. But I know that it’s a level of pain that some are experiencing right now. As I read Job, the question that keeps coming to my head is whether or not our churches are a place where people can say the type of things that Job says with the knowledge that they will be listened to and loved.

Think about it.

If someone said something like that in Sunday School, the majority of us would cringe at best, offer our theological proclamations of God’s goodness at worst (again, I’m talking at the very beginning of suffering Christian, Be Quiet).

Our churches need to be places where there is space to mourn, to grieve, to suffer in community.

There’s something else interesting I want to point out about this chapter. Let’s look at verses 13-14, and 19.

For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and rulers of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, . . . The small and great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners. – Job 3:13-14, 19

Job proclaims that if he were to die, he would be at peace. He would be at peace with both the small and the great. He mentions also that those who built kingdoms for themselves here on earth would have nothing to show for it, as their kingdoms now lie in ruins.

While you can’t make grandiose doctrinal assumptions from passages like this, we know for a fact that this is true. The small and great die. Job’s view of death is not inherently Christian at this point, since his view of death is just rest, not communion with God. That being said, all people face this. Everyone faces either an eternity of communion with God or an eternity of separation from God.

So those kingdoms we’re building for ourselves don’t matter. They don’t go with us. Job said it in chapter one, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

We can’t really judge for certain what Job’s motivations were throughout his life, but he had a kingdom. He had power, prestige, money, a solid family. He had everything that most people want. Yet it was all stripped away from him in a day.

The reality is, we will all be like Job at some point.

Death strips us from all of our kingdoms of sand.

In death, all we lived for other than the Lord comes down, gets left behind.

Job 3 is an opportunity to look into the mind of a man who has lost everything. And it’s just the start.

My prayer is that our churches become places where raw emotions can be shared without judgment or disdain. My prayer is that our churches become places where people are reminded that there is only one Kingdom that lasts and it has nothing to do with us.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Ol’ Boys

Today my heart is broken.

My heart is broken for what passes today as a Biblical man.

My heart is broken for what is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention.

My heart is broken for what is going on in our leadership.

My heart is just plain broken.

I originally wrote this a couple days ago, but I had to sit on it and think, allow my righteous anger to dissipate a little. I feel confident now that this is what I need to say.

Let’s start with the two catastrophic events that have taken place this month that have got me thinking about manhood in the first place.

First off, the Houston Chronicle released an article recently documenting over 700 cases of sexual misconduct perpetrated by male pastors and volunteers in the Southern Baptist Convention over the last twenty years.

Seven.

Hundred.

Several dozen of these cases were swept under the rug, and the offending male leadership are still in positions of authority.

Secondly, last Wednesday, James MacDonald was fired for a litany of immoral behaviors. There is an audio recording of him saying immensely vulgar and obscene things about others in Christian leadership, and he has been accused of financial embezzlement and sexual misconduct as well.

Sadly enough, James MacDonald has written a Bible study entitled “Act Like Men”, one that I have used in a men’s ministry at OBU, as well as one that I’ve walked through with my father.

My heart is broken.

For change to come about, we need healthy practices of accountability in our churches. I’ve been thrilled to see the response from J.D. Greear regarding the horrors of all this sexual misconduct, in which he advocated for security measures and the full weight of the law in response to allegations that are made.

I thank God for such a response.

But, if history proves itself true, I’m afraid we will only hear of more moral failures among men of God in coming months.

So how do we combat this?

I believe we need to fundamentally change what we teach men about what it means to be a man of God.

This sadly is not the response of many people. Sadly, my Facebook is often full of posts from people claiming that men are being emasculated, that men are being ostracized, that men are under attack. While there may be some slight validity to this, Biblical manhood is not about machismo, shooting guns, and drinking beers.

Let’s look at what it is like.

Gentle Strength.

If there is one thing I wish men would understand, it’s this. Gentleness, meekness, is strength. Jesus modeled this perfectly (as He modeled everything), as He boldly stood for what is right, endured immense pain and suffering, and yet did the above with gentleness. He wasn’t loud. He wasn’t boisterous. He wasn’t arrogant. He was gentle.

Nor was he a sissy or a pansy.

He taught regularly about how He didn’t come to make peace. But. He also didn’t come to make war through physical bravado.

Gentleness is hard, anger is easier.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5

I fight this all the time. Too often Facebook becomes an extension of my emotions, and I post out of anger instead of taking a deep breath and seeing all sides to every story. Just this week I had to take a post down that was nothing more than me angrily responding to something in my life.

I truly believe that in many communities and churches, men wouldn’t follow Jesus if He were here in the flesh, because they would find him weak. And gentle.

Teachability.

This is where sexism explodes into the conversation. I am not by any means advocating for what is oftentimes in our society a witch hunt for sexists, where every slight offense is drudged up into a violation of equal rights.

However.

I think we would be a bunch of bafoons if we didn’t acknowledge that sexism is oftentimes rampant in our churches and communities.

Sexism is this: If male leadership are the only voices being heeded while wise female leadership is being ignored.

There are women in my community that are wiser than me, smarter than me, and better leaders than me. They teach me what it means to follow Jesus and how to be a better leader myself. I need them in my life. I need their voices.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

We have curated men who refuse to listen to any voice, whether it is male or female. We have created and raised up men who think they know best. Yet teachability is a key sign of Biblical manhood.

Submission.

This point and the previous one go hand in hand. Teachability requires humility.

True Biblical manhood includes submission as well.

There should be mutual submission in the home. Husband and wife.

Yes, I believe Scripture spells out that the man is head of the household. But that certainly doesn’t mean the man should be domineering, manipulative, and unwilling to listen.

I go to my wife about a whole lot. When I don’t, things don’t go so well.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

Men should also submit to King Jesus. Every day. We have men who don’t see Jesus that way. Jesus is for their wife and kids and for when they were children. Jesus blesses their work and home but He’s not their Savior. But you can’t have Him as your Savior if you don’t submit to Him as your Lord.

Holiness.

Cuss it up, drink those beers, watch football, and leave the parenting to your wife (my biggest pet peeve on earth is when I hear that fathers are ‘babysitting’ their own kids). God made you this way.

This is the message of some well-known books on manhood. Books written by Christian men.

What has happened is that we have made holiness not important.

Instead we have ingrained in our men the generational habits of vulgarity, alcoholism, and misogyny. I have been around countless men who break my heart with there consistent obscene talk and the way they’re no different than any man around them while claiming Christ.

There is nothing wrong with beer in moderation.

Nothing wrong with hunting.

Nothing wrong with watching football.

But as a man, what habits do you keep?

We have a country full of men who claim Jesus but open up a Coors Light more often than they open up God’s Word. We have men who know their way around a tool box but they don’t know how to follow Jesus in their day to day life.

They haven’t been taught.

Instead, they’ve been taught to perpetuate the belief that Jesus is for women, and men can be rough around the edges as much as they want.

These four things are what I’m teaching my male students.

These four things are what I’m going to teach my sons.

Gentle strength. Humble submission and teachability. Holiness.

Until we teach men to be true Biblical men, we will hear more and more moral failures.

Our churches don’t need “God and country” good ol’ boys, they need Biblical men.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach