And by this blog title, we do not refer to the physical measures of a man. We are not talking metric and imperial units here. Professional athletes do not get a free pass. We are asking one question: What is a real man? What would be the increments on the measuring stick that sizes up a real man?
A quick disclaimer to all the women reading this: please do not feel undervalued. Yes, this series is directed at men. But a massive reason behind that is because of one thing: I am convinced that one of the biggest problems in the world is our men. However, I take it that many of the points I will make are valuable for both genders. So feel welcome.
And if you are game, keep reading.
Ultimately, the measure of all men is Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate premise behind every post in this series. Jesus Christ is the standard. The straps of his sandles I, and every man that has or ever will be, are unworthy to untie. And he came to set every man and woman free from his and her failures and fallings short. Therefore, we look to Jesus.
It is fitting, therefore, that we are going to work by an acrostic word. STRAP. Each letter stands for something that I characterise as being a true hallmark of a real man. And to do that – we are going to privilege the voice of men. And I’m not just talking males. From now on, when we refer to a man, we are talking about a man. A real man.
Another quick disclaimer: I by no means consider myself a model of any of these qualities. Hear this. It is precisely as a result of my own failure and frustration that I was forced to consider what it takes to be a real man. So. Disclaimer over. Let’s get into it.
I’m doing something a little different with this one. Most of you would be familiar with my writing about the Bible. But a majority of you know nothing about me. Nothing about my story. Nothing about my life. Nothing about how I got to this point in history.
And I’ve got no problems with that. At all.
This blog exists to make much of God. It is the very fabric of this whole thing. I have no higher goal or prayer. That through these words of mine, you would come to know God more. That these words would simply compel and drive you further into God’s word.
So. Working off the premise that God is glorified in our weakness. I want to do something a little bit different. I want to share with you a story from my life. It’s about a man I hardly knew. I never even got his name. But looking back, I realise how important this man’s actions were in my life. And how he challenged me without him even realising it.
Quick clarification necessary: I have always considered myself a Christian. And tons of awesome Christian men and women have come alongside me over the years. Pastors. Teachers. Grandparents. Friends. The best parents in the world. But it was the actions of a man I hardly knew that challenged me to get baptised.
“The word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)
Part 2 in my life-long series.
This post works off one simple premise: God’s word is powerful. And if you don’t believe me, let me just discredit your objections in advance. I’ll just throw some truth your way:
“The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born” (Psalm 33:6). We know a God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). It was “at the blast of his breath, that the bottom of the earth could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare” (2 Samuel 22:16).
God is “sustaining all things by the power of his word” (Hebrews 1:3). The hum of the generator powering the whole universe is every word that the comes from the mouth of God. And we have at our disposal this same word of God, that which is “living and active, sharper than a two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Knowing that “all scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and “spoken that our joy may be full” (John 15:11).
God’s word sits on a shelf. And he intendeds it not be a proficient dust collector. Because God’s word doesn’t just sustain the whole universe (although that alone boasts an impressive resume). God also intends his word be personally, individually, life changing. Given so we can claim no condemnation (Romans 8:1) and fullness of life (John 10:10).
I don’t boast much experience. But I can boast in God’s word. So. Having said all of that. Here’s three absolute gems of God’s word that have really hit home for me.
Such a simple question. And yet, perhaps the most confusing. New theories for life are constantly being developed and followed. Explanations for a statistically near-impossible universe are mass produced on the conveyer-belt of human reasoning. Even the most mind-boggling advances in design and technology, in this day and age of such incredible knowledge, leave us wanting. It’s beyond us. We can’t reach a consensus conclusion.
And so the answers to why we exist range on a ridiculously large spectrum.
And here’s the deal. Everyone answers the question of why they exist. Whether consciously or not. If not in words, then it shows up in actions. Because what you believe, will always impact how you respond to the world. And how you respond to the world, will always be a reflection of what you believe.
And so this post comes with two prongs.
First, to those of you who are willing to bet your lives away on the education of chance – the everything springing into existence from nothing, all just a statistical freak accident of nature – consider why you exist. Consider how worthless and hopeless you are in light of this view. And then think long and hard about whether this is worth going all-chips-in.
Secondly, for those who are aboard the God train-of-thought. I want to put before you the words of Jesus. I hope to hit you afresh with the blood-bought way Christians are to live and so respond to this world. As described by Jesus. And as recorded in Matthew 5:11-16.
August 8th. 1997. At 10:10 am. 20 years ago tomorrow, I started my journey in this out-of-womb world called planet earth. And my parents began their journey with the boy who is still by far and away their favourite child to date (alongside my brother and sister).
On the way to the hospital, Dad (driving) and Mum (just hours away from giving birth) drove past a church. The church had a sign out the front. It said this: A baby is God’s way of saying life goes on. I love this. This is the awesome miracle of us. Life goes on because God is good. All life is made possible because God wills it. God breathes it. God gives it.
I turn 20 years old in less than 24 hours. And here’s the thing: I do not intend on wasting the rest of my life. I am convinced that the unwasted life has one all-satisfying goal. To make much of Christ. This is how I intend on living. So here it is. My journal entry.
But there’s seriously no competition in the race for best PM and government when Jesus is in the picture. And in the end, our vote doesn’t determine his rule and reign. This baby is happening.
The ball is in your court to decide whether you want to be part of His government. In Part 1 we discussed three reasons why Jesus is (by far) the best leader the world has and will ever see. So without further ado, here’s three more reasons in this – Part 2:
He provides the solution to the biggest problem facing humanity
Forget the economy. Forget jobs. Forget global warming. Forget social status.
The single biggest issue facing the world today is death. Nobody escapes it. Everyone plays to its tune. And so we dance our way around in life, looking for ways to prolong what is destined for the grave.
We avoid unhealthy habits. We keep our body and bank account healthy. We seek good times and happiness. We work, accumulate, consume, die. All for what?
It’s all pretty hopeless. And so surely any good leader cares enough to at least address the biggest issue we will ever face. And believe it or not, Jesus does.
But even more than that. What’s amazing is that Jesus had life at the centre of his teachings. He consistently and intentionally promises a cure. A way to the truth and fullness of life.
So don’t you ever tell me Jesus is not relevant because he lived 2000 odd years ago. But if you do, please explain how death doesn’t affect the world anymore.
This Jesus is extremely relevant.
Because Jesus didn’t just address the issue of death by illustrating what a painful death looks like. Jesus didn’t just acknowledge mankind’s biggest problem and then leave it hanging. He solved our greatest problem by leaving himself hanging.
His death wasn’t the end of the story. And that sets this leader apart from all others.
He fulfils all his promises.
Isn’t this something we lack in politics nowadays.
Politicians are increasingly being characterised by their inability to follow through on promises. Heck, there are even websites tracking the number of broken promises for each government. We expect the leaders of our nation to break definite promises.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
Jesus on the other hand has a perfect track record with promises. Completely contrary to the world’s leaders, when God makes a promise we expect it to happen. And it does.
That a nation would come from the line of Abraham? Tick (Genesis 17:2). That a nation stuck in slavery would be brought out of Egypt? Yep (Exodus 14-15). That a leader from the line of David would rule forever? You bet your bottom dollar (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:69).
And not just that. Ridiculous prophecies (God inspired predictions) were made 400-700 years B.C. to foreshadow this coming leader from the line of David.
And the chances of someone fulfilling all of them is astronomical.
The compelling nature of prophecies fulfilled by the person of Jesus, cannot be explained by way of pure chance.
Some smart people got together and did some cool maths stuff.
They found that the chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 259,000,000. So pretty crazy. But they found the chances of someone fulfilling just 8 (of the suggested 48) prophecies are way more ridiculous: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
But that isn’t all folks. The research team also estimated the chance of one man fulfilling all 48 prophecies: 1 in 10 to the power of 157. That’s a 1 followed by 157 zeroes.
That’s a lot of zeroes.
Jesus fulfilled all promises and prophecies. Forget Leicester City, The Chicago Cubs and the Western Bulldogs. Jesus literally embodies the biggest upset and logic defying performance of all time. A pretty darn big fluke.
Unless you believe in a God who fulfils all his promises. Then it just makes sense.
His rule and reign will never end
This is where we bring it all together.
Kingdom literally translated is King’s Dominion – just shortened. So because Jesus smashed sin and death to pieces, his dominion extends beyond death.
And this is perhaps one of the greatest promises made by God.
That through Jesus, we have access to God (Hebrews 10:20). He has made a way to life (John 14:6). And anyone who believes and places trust in our awesome candidate is welcome into His kingdom (John 3:16).
You’d be crazy to turn that offer down.
I love this quote.
I pray with this in mind most mornings. It is significant to me for a number of reasons. You see, from the hand of God everything was created. He crafted and chiseled out the universe and everything in it from nothing.
So this reminds me that God is totally in control of all things. And sometimes, when all is out of hand, that’s when I see his fingerprints the most.
But more than that. God’s hands signify our citizenship.
Because Jesus lives, his kingdom endures
Jesus handed us the hammer. And with the nail, we smashed the whole world’s sin and junk into the hand of God. And three days later, Jesus proved he had power over it.
The crazy irony. That the nails we drove in with intentions to stay the hand of God, would become the lasting blows of justice.
Talk about grace.
Jesus, by nature and profession a carpenter, gave amateurs the hammer to deliver the blows of a new covenant (Matt 26:28). To make something new of his body, the church.
And so we can approach God with full confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Knowing that our deepest scars of sin have been dealt with.
The hands of God cannot be held down. And neither can his Kingdom.
Look at all the bullet points again. Let’s recap the leader and government outlined.
A prime minister that rules with authority, justice and fairness. And yet, a leader that is down to earth and humble in every way. Fully understanding of the struggles and deepest sufferings of his people.
The biggest problem humanity faces he addresses and solves. All promises he makes are fulfilled. He ushers in a kingdom full of his people that humbly serve and care for one another. Everyone in his kingdom is included and important. And it starts from the top.
Now ask yourself: is this the sort of leadership and government I want out of office?
Jesus offers real hope, and real change for real life issues
That’s the sort of leader I want to follow. That’s the sort of people I want to be part of.
And if we believe Jesus is the top candidate, we naturally become his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). God uses us to tell the world how awesome his government is.
We are called to contain, proclaim and live by the values of this kingdom (Hebrews 10:23). To let the activity of the King be evident in our lives (Phillipians 2:13). To give the world just a snippet of what is (and is) to come.
All the forces of hell will try to overthrow it. The world will experience great turmoil and tremendous upheaval. Heck, we might even face an election with shocking candidates.
But through it all, we are not shaken (Psalm 16:8). We have intense confidence in our leader who put the forces of death to shame. God’s kingdom will never end. All people are welcome.
Lies. Deception. Failure to follow through on definite promises. The same old slogans. Selling hope but delivering the opposite. Outdated leaders that don’t understand the people. ‘The better of two evils’ is often how we describe the candidates.
And us Aussies don’t like any of our leaders. We’ve had something ridiculous like 6 prime minsters in the last 7 years (a new record mind you). We just can’t make our minds up. Nobody truly leads with authority. Nobody really makes us want to follow them. The real issues aren’t being properly addressed.
Can I hear an amen?
We just want a fair shake of the sauce bottle. But there’s certainly an aspect where we have to just put up with it. Attempting to overthrow all of the world’s governments is not a good idea. I repeat: not a good idea.
We should consider our government and authority with respect, praying they rule justly. Yet, their rule is just temporary. No government is lasting, secure or faultless.
“The kingdom of heaven is near” – Jesus (Mark 1:15)
Except this one.
Here we have Jesus putting in his ballot paper. Publicly declaring to everyone his full confidence in this kingdom. The line has been drawn.
And even more than that, Jesus promises nothing in this world can rival this kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10-11). Not some cheap knock-off or temporary rule of a government with an average leader.
This is the real deal.
Now, we place a lot of different thoughts onto the word kingdom. Medieval stuff like castles, knights, and drawbridges with shark infested waters. But kingdom in its simplest form is just a shortened form of King’s Dominion.
The activity and reign of the King.
So when Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is near, it can actually be taken literally. Jesus was physically with the people. Therefore, the kingdom was literally near. So if we want to find out what this kingdom is all about, we should look to the activity of the king. We should look to the works and words of Jesus.
Let’s find out how worthy a candidate this Jesus is.