— an urgent challenge to build the men in your life —
Another school shooting and many children’s lives lost. Countless other lives were tragically changed forever. I just want to reflect on one reality coming out of this — not to find a hidden reason for why this happens, but more to give a challenge to us. Young guys who do violence to others often, but not always, had a terrible relationship with their fathers — or they never even knew their dad. In recent history this goes back to the Columbine High school shooting.
But all the way back in the ancient source of wisdom, the biblical stories, we see a pattern of broken father-and-son relationships. Perhaps it even goes back to Eden. Where was Adam when Cain violently killed his brother Abel? No one knows and the story does not tell us — but maybe the silence is telling.
And so we must ask the question God once asked Adam, “Man, where are you?”
Brothers, can we be honest? There is a crisis in our world of men and their poor quality relationships. Sociological studies have shown that many negative social trends are related to the lack of a quality healthy man in a family — developing relationships, loving his wife and children and setting a good example.
But because so many men did not have that example in their own families when they grew up, they spend their whole life in a painful search for meaning and affirmation. And since that is very difficult to find they often turn to drugs, computer game addictions, alcohol (one of the biggest addictions) and ultimately, violence.
All of these responses of a young man are his ways of seeking to numb the haunting pain in his heart of loneliness, anger, and bitterness. He then believes that revenge by hurting others will somehow help his situation.
Once again we see that hurt people will hurt people.
So, brothers, how about we make a positive contribution to our world and go out and build other men into true disciples of Jesus — in body and soul, in mind and emotions, and especially in relationships.
Of course that starts with our own lives. We must become healthy — which starts by looking in the mirror (actually take time to look at your face) and by looking in the mirror of the Bible (through which you will see your soul and motivations). Then we need brothers to come alongside us — men we can confess our sins to and be challenged by. And then they will become brothers that we walk with on the path of life.
Then when we see a man who is doing poorly and we come alongside him and stop him from hurting himself and others. In doing so we will save marriages. We will stop him from committing adultery. We will model for him and challenge him to speak calm, encouraging and affirming words to others without anger or swearing.
We will stop a man from one of his biggest problems — passivity. We will call him forward to climb the mountains of life that are facing him. But we will NOT tell him to go do it alone. We will lock arms together and climb. Sometimes I will carry your backpack and sometimes you will carry mine.
There’s no perfection here. There’s no absolute “healthy man” — we all have our flaws. But we will be healthy in one way – we will move forward towards Jesus and one another and the kind of life that he wants us to have.
Men, we must stop looking inward and feeling bad about ourselves and muttering inwardly that we are not who we should be. God knows who we actually are! He sees deep into us and sees all of our flaws and weaknesses and disappointments, and he still loves us!
So with our hearts filled with this love let us look upward and outward to other men and call them out of their prison of darkness. And yes, we are also talking about Christian men who are leading secret and sad lives inside their own hearts.
These brothers haven’t found the true freedom that the very gospel that they believe in — they are in a virtual prison. The truth is they have not understood and fully apprehended it. But why?
After many years of working with Christian brothers I can say that it is especially true that the experience of gospel love comes to us powerfully as we open ourselves toward one another. In other words, Jesus loves us quite directly through our brothers. No matter how much we tell a man that Jesus loves him it is hard for him to experience that reality if no one around him gives him that kind of love. God knew what he was doing through His Son Jesus when he showed us a real man and how He loved other men for years. And He loved them even though “he knew what is in a man“ John 2:25.
Then, at the end of his life, he simply said in effect, “Go and do what I have done among you. As I have loved the Father, and as I have loved you, so now go and love one another.“
Every man, no matter what job you have in the world, can do this! You can be a Christian brother to one, two, five, ten or hundreds of men.
Stop waiting for your church to organize this. Stop waiting for your pastor to initiate. Stop waiting for the perfect opportunities. Stop waiting until you are generally done with your career aspirations and have made enough money to take care of your future. Why in the world would you do that!!??
We can’t wait for that! The world can’t wait for that! The children cannot wait for that! The students in all the schools and universities in the world cannot wait for that!
To change the entire world is God‘s job. It is His world and this is His work. So the pressure is not on you. But the invitation and the responsibility and the challenge is from Him directly to us — “O’ Man! what will you do with your life?!”
The tragedies in this world will continue to come. But the Lord has placed you in this world for a purpose and that is to bring truth, hope, and life in the world in which you live…to those 10 people, to those 50 people. How are you doing right there?
There’s no shortage of online resources, books, videos, and teaching series — that certainly cannot be your excuse. You can find a good one and start using it with some people. You can also simply read the Scriptures together and talk and pray together about how to apply it to your life. You can meet weekly with other men who are willing to open up to you and you to them.
You can take them camping, go backpacking in the high country for days or trek in the desert, or travel together. You can call each other on the phone during lunch breaks. You can meet at 6 AM every Wednesday like my best friend has done in California with a large group of men for more than 20 years.
Jesus will lead you. That’s what it means to be his follower. So, come on men. Come on, O’ Christian man. Start growing and building life all around you.
Your life can either be a field of scattered rocks and tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or it can be a garden of beautiful trees that bear fruit and a river flowing through it.
Adam, (which means “Man”) where are you?
— Brent Hoover