Having worked with men’s groups for many years, I have learned to identify three levels of conversation among Christian brothers. First there is the general “guy talk”. Men are most comfortable at this level. Wes Yoder suggests that the perfect conversation for men can be summed up in eight words, “Can you believe the weather at that game?” The second is “God talk.” This is generally “safe” objective talk about spiritual matters The third is “soul talk.” This conversation goes to the hurt and pain inside. Men need to learn to do soul talk.
Christian men living in a post-Christian America can develop a “critical spirit,” as they lament the lack of support for a biblical worldview in a culture, with a growing anti-Christian bias. It is easy to fall into whining. It very well could be that we, like the people of Israel, are traveling through a wilderness. We can not ask the culture to do for us, what we as believers have to do for ourselves. God’s presence will go with us and he will provide for our needs, as he did for the people of Israel.
Every morning God miraculously provided manna as food. But we read, “the riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, ‘Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt – and got it free! – to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.'” (Numbers 11: 4-6 – The Message) Years ago, Keith Green wrote a song about the whining of the people Israel as they complained about “manna burgers” every day. They took their eyes off of God’s presence among them and whined about his provision for the journey. They wanted to go back to the way it used to be in Egypt. They were still cultural enslaved to life in Egypt. How enslaved can we be to the culture?
Men, don’t let your fellowship with other brothers allow a critical spirit to develop, giving you license to whine about how bad the culture is becoming. Yes, we need to be a salt and light in a dark world, but we are not going to get the culture to “dance to our tune.” We have to take a long look at our own life ( soul talk). Our character formation is what matters. Men need to challenge each other with the question, “Am I becoming more of who Jesus wants me to be in the culture?” We need to see what a great opportunity we have to be lights in a darkening cultural environment.
What will that look like. Recently I read this description of Jesus. Jesus Christ modeled authentic manhood by, ” joyful responsibility, humble service, and courageous leadership.” We have the opportunity to reflect these three qualities to the world. Jesus cautions us when he says, “If you don’t go all the way with me, through think and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” (Matt 10: 38-39 – The Message). In looking to Jesus and not the culture, we will find our true self.
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