Pat Morley who founded “Man in the Mirror” has written many books to help men find meaning and purpose in life. In his book “Pastoring Men” he makes this intriguing statement concerning men. “Most men only know enough about God to be disappointed with Him.” What do you think of such a statement? Is this true for you? Do you know other men in church or on the margins of the church who would express these same sentiments? My sense is that a lot of men would say they are disappointed in God, but are not willing to share this secret, that has been held for years in their hearts. My question is – why would this be true? I have a three observations regarding his statement.
These two observations are my own. So they can certainly be challenged. First, I wonder if a lot of church men have merely a “head knowledge” of God. A man can know through reasoning that God loves him. But that will not convince him that he is OK in God’s sight. Men are filled with shame-based guilt that comes from not being able to measure up to a preconceived standard. This standard drives men to prove they are worthy of God’s love. It simply cannot be done. After a time men will begin to see God as demanding to much of them. Again, I say to men, we have to learn to “receive” God’s love for us. It is the Good News – something that is too good to be true. We don’t have to prove anything to God or qualify for his love by our performance. He simple lives us for who we are. We are in the words of David Benner “beloved sinners.”
The second observation is simply “spiritual laziness” that is induced by a resignation brought about by having tried to measure up, then failing, which in turn produces a sense of failure. So the thought is “What is the use, I can’t change who I am. I will just go into coast and function outwardly as a “niece” Christian guy. I will do my “duty” as best I can at home and church.” In the work place the battle has already been lost. In cases such as this, God is seen as upholding a standard that can never be reach. While in one sense this is true, the good news is that God does not expect us to keep the rules on our own. We need his Spirit to motivate, change and empower us. We have to come to the point of admitting our weakness ( 12 steps – my life is unmanageable). For when we are weak, then in God we can be strong. Take heart from Jesus words to Paul, “My grace is enough; It’s al you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness” (II Cor 12:8 – The Message)
My third observation is wondering if men come to this point because we have a hard time rightly processing our “pain.” Let’s face it, men. Life will be hard. There will be the dark and lonely times of pain, when we will try to endure the pain on our own. Jesus says to us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” ( John 16:33). A man can easily blame God for his pain, when the pain is meant to bring him to God for strength. We might not get the answers we want to the pain we are enduring. But God will take our pain and the situation we are in, and teach us whole new ways to respond. “At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in thier relationship with God’ (Heb 12: 11 – The Message)