From my post as “a watchmen” on the wall (Is. 62:6) here at Canaan’s rest, I sense along with a lot of other biblically orientated folks that the recent presidential election revealed a major shift in American culture that we might not have seen coming. But the evidence is in. As Jim Daly, Focus on The Family president, observed, “Not only did the majority of Americans vote to reelect a president whose policies have reflected a disregard for the fundamental issues of life, marriage and religious liberty. At least two states voted to redefine the family in a way past generations would have found unthinkable.” So what does this mean for men who are committed followers of Jesus.
Well, in my opinion, committed men need to turn their spiritual eyes away from the world and themselves and get a new focus on Jesus. Along with Peter we confess anew, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” John 6:68-9). Jesus did not say the journey would be easy (read Luke 21, Mark 13, and Matt. 24). He tells us in Luke 21:28, “When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way.” Yes help is on the way. But our posture needs to be that of being alert (on your feet) and attentive (your head high). Above, all men need to be standing tall. Our hope is in the Lordship of Jesus and his kingdom, not the systems and structure of our culture.
I personally identify with the phrase “joyful exile.” I am an exile in this culture, but I also want to be a joyful exile. I want to be a positive witness in a time of great uncertainty, cultural tension and spiritual lukewarmness. With all my heart I say to you men, this is a day to be a JOYFUL exile. The phrase “joyful exile” comes from a book with the same title, by James Houston, my mentor in so many ways. He says, “This book is for ‘exiles’ those who need the moral courage to move away from the familiar and the conventional and into the dangerously exposed places, to prophetically critique our cultural norms and institutional attitudes.” Men, it is time for men to “stand tall with our heads high” not pulling back in fear and going back into the familiar. No, it is a time to move out in boldness, willing as humble, loving followers of Jesus to bring constructive critique to our culture.
Let me close with an extended quote from Dr Houston. “Faithfulness to biblical convictions always calls us to live ‘dangerously on the edge’ of our culture. This is not a call to individualism and independence of spirit. It is an invitation to experience more deeply what it means to become a faithful witness of Christ. This process requires that we have the moral courage and selflessness to confront cultural challenges, resisting the insidious pressure to depend on techniques instead of the love and Spirit of God. It requires that we foster spiritual friendship and allow community to grow spiritually rather than be organized artificially. It demands that we be more personally available to others in sharing the joy of God’s salvation.”
In a culture that has lost its spiritual mooring, where the name of Jesus is blasphemed, and where a biblical lifestyle is mocked, it is time for the men of God to awake up. This is now our time. We are called to live on the dangerous edge of culture. It calls for moral courage and selflessness. As Dr Houston points out, we are to express to love of Christ and be dependent on the Spirit of God. His challenge to foster spiritual friendship, along with spiritual community, does not come naturally to men. But men, it is time for us to band together in small committed groups, to encourage one another to go out with the weapons of love and humility and to practice a “subversive spirituality” in territory that has now being occupied by what Charles Colson once called “the new barbarians.”
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