February 8, 2011

I was asked a probing question last week. Where is the voice of strong men?

What the man was asking is simply this, ‘Why aren’t there more Christian men addressing the challenging issues of our culture today?’ We need someone to say something useful to the world we live in. A world that is spiritually wayward, self indulgent, self absorbed and reflects a systemic spiritual apathy, sinful propensity, and relational dysfunction. One renown for political injustice and charitable indifference.

Where is our strong voice?

That is a tough one. One I hesitate to answer because the question is an indictment. It wouldn’t be asked if there was a sound coming from Christian men other than zzzzzz…snoring!

Strong words, I know.

Strong words are part of the historical heritage of Christianity. Our founder, Jesus, was one of the strongest speakers the world has ever heard. Note, for example, Christ’s excoriation of the religious elite of his day “woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice, and mercy and faithfulness…”

But He did not stop with strong words of judgment, He also spoke strong words of forgiveness. … “Jesus said to her, woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” and she said, “No one Lord”. And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go you way, from now on sin no more”. John 8:10-11

He spoke strong words of healing… “do you wish to get well?”…Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your pallet and walk. Immediately the man became well” John 5:6-8

And He spoke even stronger words of life over death “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Do you believe this?…”Lazarus come forth” and he who had died came forth! John 11:25,26; 43,44

But it didn’t end with Jesus; His disciples spoke strong words too. Note Peter’s words to the political/religious leaders of his day when the authorities sought to throttle the Christian’s public testimony… “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge, for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard…” “We must obey God rather than man”. Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29.

The apostle Paul likewise had strong words; for all mankind… “for ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…the wages of sin is death”.Romans 3:23; 6:23

But he also had reassuring words for the lost… “God demonstrates His own love toward you in the awhile you were yet sinners Christ dies for you” … “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”. Romans 5:8; Acts 16:31

Paul also spoke strong words of liberation for all… “it was for freedom that Christ set us free” Galatians 5:1 And hopeful words for the grieving… “do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14

Paul had direct and strong words for husbands….” Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. He had direct words for dads… “Fathers do not exasperate your children, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And he had words of warning for those who drink too much…”do not get drunk with wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit. All of which show his concern for the home as well as Heaven. Ephesians 5, 6

Yet the Apostle penned one of the greatest poems of all time, one of the strongest statements on love in all of literature… “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

But strong words of Christian men did not stop with the disciples or apostles. The tradition of strong spokesmen for Jesus continued with other men too numerous to count; Polycarp who stood against the persecution of the Roman empire, Irenaeus, who argued against Gnosticism, Thomas Aquinas who developed much of the early theology and intellectual arguments for the faith, as did Augustine.

And we can not overlook the reformers, Martin Luther, Philipp Melancthon and Charles Wesley who challenged the abuses of religion and governments. Nor can I finish without mention of the early missionaries, William Carey and Hudson Taylor, plus Christian authors, John Newton of “Pilgrims Progress”; written from prison, or C. S. Lewis of Mere Christianity, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the author of “The cost of discipleship” who died for his faith. Nor can I conclude without emphasizing the work and words of modern evangelists who spoke the truth unfettered and tamed a generation of U. S. Presidents and college students with the gospel, Billy Graham, and Bill Bright.

But the question remains from the gentleman above – where are the voices today?

Sure, we have a few men in the lime light of Christendom spurring us along. But they represent a professional class of speaker and are too few to tame America alone.

Today we need more voices big and small but strong and true that speaks to our generation the truth God delivered once for all to His saints (Jude 3). And we need voices that not only challenge the status quo of political, academic, military, business and religious institutions. But we need men who will address the wrong doing in their own lives; address their wives with love, their children with affirmation, their neighbors with concern, the needy with solutions and the arrogant with humility.

We need men, strong men of conviction, steeped in the Truth, who will wake up and say something profound instead of profane.

Will you be counted as one among us?

– Article contributed by Jim Coté, Founder and President of the Master’s Men ministry.