As I write this blog from the north woods of Minnesota, I realize that most of the men who are reading this blog with any kind of consistency, are located in busy urban areas, living a very busy life with family and career obligations. I lived in that kind of context for many years as a pastor. I realize that you, the reader, do not have the time to be a watchman, trying to discern how God is active in our culture. So watchmen are needed in our day. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning for me. ” (Ezk. 3:17)
A watchman on the walls in the OT, was one who stood guard on the walls, looking beyond the walls for any approaching danger. In some small degree I find my focus for writing this blog, when I visualize a watchmen on the walls, alertly looking from the walls for the sake of the men who read this blog. I would not chose this post, but I sense it is my call to “light one small light in the darkness.” Therefore, my focus will mostly be two fold in this blog. First, to observe what is happening in the culture, and secondly, to help men live a consistent, godly life in the culture; in other words, the outer journey into the culture and the inner journey into the masculine soul.
Because of the motivation, I spend time pondering the activity of God in our culture. Recently, I came across an article by Tom Gilson that stuck with me. He talked about the American church situation not so much as being in a post-Christian era, but rather moving toward a “post-comfortable Christianity.” Gilson maintains that the church is drowsy. Christians have, “been fairly well able to coast on our heritage of cultural approval.” But this is rapidly changing. “The church in America, ” says Gilson, “shows every sign of wanting to remain in its cozy condition – even as we are entering into the battle of our lives. Contrast that with an army sleeping in its tents and how quickly it rouses when the sentries (watchmen) shout, ‘We’re under attack!’ We hate to be bothered.”
I think Gilson has a valid point. I would maintain that the events in our culture, during the last couple of years, should come as a “wake up” call to the church. The days ahead will call for a new kind of leadership. This begins with men like those who read this blog. I believe very strongly that it will be the next generation of young men who will lead to way, as the church faces new cultural pressures not experienced in the past. We will not be able to do church in the same way. Men in my estimation will be learning new ways in which to both live within and speak to a more hostile culture.
Listen again to Gilson. “Our persecuted brethren have had experience practicing these teachings. We may have the same opportunity coming our way. We could blow it. We could hold tightly to our tradition of comfortable church-as-usual. We could try to lead as we have always led. Or we could move wisely, discerningly, joyfully, and lovingly into the reality of post-comfortable Christianity.” I very much agree with the four adverbs that Gilson mentioned in the last sentence. God’s foot soldiers, those who will impact our culture, I believe will be described by these four words – wise, discerning, joyful and loving.
To practice these four virtues, you do not have to be a “super” Christian man. You can start where you are with your family, your church, your community, and your work. It will mean a change in perspective. You will be doing subversive activity in a hostile culture. But men, that is part of the calling. We are the ones who can make a difference. We are not going to embrace a “comfortable” Christianity. Are you up to the challenge. There are men just like you, who are ready to stand and be accountable.