*This is the last of three posts. If you begin with this post out of context of the first two, you may be confused. You can read the first post here, and the second here. (Note: I actually had this finished a few months ago, but you know how that goes. Ha. I plan to write more soon, so I figured it would be apropos to finally post this before that happens.)*
Part 3: What It Could Be
I’ve argued that every man possesses an indwelling, God-given impulse that drives him to subdue, to conquer, and to exercise dominion over his given sphere of life. In the first post, we saw what it was before sin. As Adam modeled perfect masculinity, he was fulfilling his call to leadership in the meaningful mission to represent, reflect, and glorify God. However, in the second post, we saw what it became with the tragic invasion of sin. Fallen from grace, men became, among other things, sluggards, abdicators, do-nothings, slackers, cowards, and (most foundationally) sinners under the wrath of the living God. Men were ruined, and the ongoing effect of that ruin ravages our present world. Even secular culture, through its portrayal of the male gender in movies and especially television, implicitly testifies that millions of modern men are stupid losers, passive recluses, animalistic perverts, purposeless slobs, and selfish aggressors.
The Creator is under no obligation to save men from such a hell-bent plight. We got ourselves into this mess in our scheme to become God and to rip him off his eternal throne. Our damnation is just. The Judge would be right to leave us smoldering in the charred ash heaps of our fallen masculinity. But He did do something. He did not leave us in our sin. Remarkably, the God that Adam treacherously rebelled against and then experienced ruin is the God that made a way for Adam and his descendants to experience redemption. Adam would curse God with his sin; God would cure Adam with his salvation. This is mercy. This is grace. And this grace comes to kiss men in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This Jesus became a perfect man to die in the place of wicked men, in order to rescue these men from ruin and restore them to God. While men were yet sinners, Christ died for them. With his death and resurrection, everything changes.
This is where the cross of Christ connects with our present discussion. That old rugged cross is how we get from what it became to what it could be.
The fact is this: Jesus takes deadbeats and gives them heartbeats. He takes men that once burned for sin and makes them burn for a Savior. Fallen men have wicked hearts. That wicked, corrupt heart serves as the fountainhead of those eruptions that spew forth all the self-centered wickedness and twisted dominion we’ve been talking about. But when Jesus grips a man, his heart is transformed. Jesus creates an internal change that always terminates in an external transformation. It’s the Gospel metamorphosis that makes a man out of you. When this happens, the Holy Spirit invades the formerly idol-infested temple of a man’s body and reanimates his existence for that which is purposeful and true and good and beautiful. Sin ruins men; let it be known that only the Gospel of Christ restores them.
When men are saved, they are called to unconditional forgiveness, Godward reconciliation, adoption as sons, and eternal freedom from condemnation. But God doesn’t leave them inactive to merely sit around with their bros and contemplate the cool theological truths regarding their newfound identity in Christ. These men, these redeemed image-bearers, are called to action, as they’re re-commissioned to subdue and exercise dominion in all of the right ways. They are called to mission, to the cause of Christ, to the subduing of personal remaining sin, to the conquering of demonic principalities, to the fulfillment of Matthew 28:18-20. By virtue of their new heart, their union with Christ, and their gift of the indwelling Spirit of God, they are empowered for these glorious actions.
This is when gluttons become glory-bearers, vagrants become visionaries, do-nothings become dragon slayers, abdicators become activists, recluses become risk-takers, slackers become soul-winners, and cowards become cross-carriers. This is the gracious effect of the Gospel of Jesus applied by the Spirit to the souls of men. And this application transforms them from spineless sluggards to self-sacrificing soldiers and from lust-driven losers to lion-hearted leaders.
Now this drive in me has been redeemed, yet it still refuses to be suppressed. It still roars like a lion against that which would imprison it, tame it, or neuter it. But now this drive longs for something other than sin. I have been changed, raised from the deadness of sin, and I long to give God glory and see Christ globally esteemed as infinitely precious. I can’t help it. This is my deepest longing because of God’s grace in the gospel. And I am driven to play my part in the mission of bringing all things under the lordship and dominion of Christ for the fame of his name. You see, the impulse to subdue, conquer, and exercise dominion is most healthily employed in supportive relation to who Jesus is and what he is doing. We should know that this masculine drive, which was implanted at creation, corrupted at the fall, and redeemed at salvation, is now to be relentlessly leveraged for the cause of Christ.
My purpose in this series is to call Christian boys and men to embrace the cause of Christ in this world with Gospel-clinging abandonment. My brothers, I am calling myself as much as I am calling you. Lord knows how much I need the exhortation. So men, I want to beg you to pause for a moment and think on the overarching narrative that is greater than yourself. Take a break to ponder what is happening in history and where it is going, then realize that these things are ultimately not about you and your glory but the glory of Someone else. I want to urge you to embrace the call, the purpose, the mission, the adventure that transcends all others. Then I challenge you to take up the torch of this cause for the rest of your life, by the grace of God, for the glory of Christ among all the nations.