Not long ago, Dr. Anthony Bradley of the Kings College in New York wrote a blog entitled “The New Legalism.” He had written on Facebook the following, “Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40).” His blog was in response to all the comments he received from his observation. In his blog, Bradley suggested that many young Christians are smothered with a new legalism: “many young adults feel ashamed if they ‘settle’ into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns or as I Thess 4:11 says, ‘aspire to live quietly and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.”
This got me to thinking about the men who read this blog. My sense is that most of you are dads, who work hard to provide for your families. You go about your daily tasks, which often seem rather mundane. You are committed to your wife and kids. You don’t have a lot of time of extra time. Yet you still desire to make a difference in your community. So you are involved in your local church, or maybe volunteer in your community. You might even find time to be in a small group with some other guys.
Maybe there are men reading this blog today who are being motivated by shame-driven pressure to be more radical and missional. You live an invisible ordinary life, wanting to make a difference in your family, community and church and you wonder if you are radical enough for Jesus. There is a tendency with men to compare our commitment with other men. As a result you might be discouraged with your spiritual journey and a good candidate for spiritual “burn out.”
I want to strongly speak a good word for being an “ordinary Christian man.” The evangelical culture has traditionally placed an emphasis on doing the right thing and thinking the right thoughts. There needs to be more thought given to simply “being.” In my early 50’s I came to the realization that my focus was more on what I was doing for God, then what He was doing through me. I saw that my being with Jesus was more important then working for Jesus. To much of my walk was about Al and how “spiritual” he thought he was. I had to come peace that being “an ordinary Christian,” living for Jesus right in my everyday circumstances, was God’s will for me.
So men, take heart. Being “ordinary,” that is, living a dedicated, domestic life as a husband and father, is a high calling. Your faithful witness will impact not only your family, but other men in our community and church. I say that a man who commits himself to be a “humble, loving follower Jesus” within his family, is doing a radical thing. Why? Because this does not come natural to men, nor is it modeled well in our churches. Remember God’s exhortation to us as husbands and fathers. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph 6:25). This means giving up yourself for your wife, as Jesus gave himself for you. Then the word about being a father. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). That can be a full time job for a dad.