I’m overwhelmed by what I’m hearing from men. It’s not that I’m looking for it – it just keeps coming.
A computer-programmer I’ve known for several years has been telling me of his deep craving for brother to brother relationships. Then, Elaine and I invited a couple to join us for lunch after church. Sure enough, with no “testing of the waters” on my part the subject came up. Than a brother calls and wants to have breakfast together and “boom,” we’re into it.
Christian men want fellowship with other Christian men. These are guys who live in the ordinaries of life. Typically they are not recognized as being deeply spiritual, but they are precisely that, if one’s standard is love for God and a hunger to know and serve Him better.
These men tear up easily in a conversation between brothers. And they are able to give and to receive. They have more strength to offer to others than they know and are keenly aware of and candid about their vulnerabilities.
These are not men who “claim” big things from God and they don’t look for spiritual fireworks. But wow – the ways in which they have been seeking God and surrendering to His leading and His rule in their life is truly spectacular.
These guys know the meaning of James 4:8, Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. The fruit of that is obvious.
They have heard Jesus say, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37b-38), and they have come. They are drinking, and reservoirs of living water are backing up inside of them.
Don’t misunderstand me – these are not the “spiritual high-flyers” that the church so quickly honors. And none of those I refer to have any church responsibilities. They are just ordinary guys who are becoming more extraordinary than anyone knows, including themselves, and it’s all because they are spending time with Jesus.
We are approaching the day when the definition of “church” is going to change – from buildings to relationships. From structured groups who are separated from each other by secondary theological issues – to unstructured relationships that are based on a common commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I say in “For Such a Time as This,” I have moved among men in various ways since the late 1960’s in men’s meetings, men’s retreats, mentoring relationships, guy friendships and pastoral settings. I have always seen the willingness of men to be open with each other but I have never seen the craving for brother-to-brother relationships that is now emerging. So much of life is purposeful. God is about His business and He is stirring the hearts of men to equip them for the day to come.
Much of what I’m speaking of will need to happen alongside the institutional church. Church leaders can serve God in this, but they will err if they try to capture men or to capitalize on the moment for the sake of advancing their own ministry. This is about Him, not them. He can show them what that means but some will need to open themselves to new possibilities before they can hear Him.
An authentic shepherd is gifted to see into the lives and hearts of his flock. God will do His work, but pastors can identify the kind of man I am speaking of. They can encourage them and release them in a totally unselfish way. They can offer to be a resource and a point of accountability but must not try to control them.
I urged my computer-programmer brother to ask God to show him the men he should reach toward. In some cases the question of getting together will touch a chord inside another brother and he will immediately know this is what he has been waiting for. In other cases it will start to stir something within him that awakens new possibilities and it will take a little time for him to say “yes.”
Some circles of relationship will be of the 2-2 sort I speak of in “For Such a Time as This,” and others will be of the 2-22 type. Call them what you will but both scenarios need to happen.
God has been preparing men for this day. Most of them are the quiet guys on the sidelines. They will step up with humble confidence in Him, and with courage that He stirs up within them, and they will join together to help us stand strong in the challenges that lie ahead.
The capacity to do this is a virtue of masculinity. Its occurrence will signal a return to God’s plan for the leadership of men in the home, church and society, which is the only foundation a stable society can be built upon. God will use the witness of their godly hearts and renewed masculine initiative to call others to Himself, and the testimony of their unity will draw many to believe in Jesus, as He said in John 17:20-21. May it be so.
December 3, 2010