A popular bumper sticker used by church-going men reads “Real Men Love Jesus.” There are many reasons why a guy might decide to glue this heavy declaration on his car. Maybe he believes it to be true. Maybe he just came from a retreat, saw it on another dude’s car, and thought it was cool. Or maybe, just maybe, his wife thought it would be a good idea to put it right next to his “I Love My Wife” bumper sticker.
Another bumper sticker is the one that reads “Coexist”. It looks pretty cool I think, in a new-agey ‘I’m enlightened and you’re not’ kind of way. But I feel like I’m being preached at whenever I see it.
Basically, a bumper sticker holds the driver to a standard. And I think that if you’re bold enough to make a statement, you better be ready to back it up. If you’re the guy with the “Coexist” bumper sticker, careful what you say the next time you want to pass judgement on a Christian protesting quietly at an abortion clinic, or stare a little longer at the Muslim-looking guy at the mall.
The “Real Men Love Jesus” guy faces the same problem, except the standard set conjures up images of Ronald Reagan riding horseback dressed in white, a cross in one hand and a Bible in the other (Or maybe you see John Wayne. For me, it’s Ronald Reagan.). Personally, I think this is setting oneself up for disaster. All eyes are on you, so be careful. Don’t even give someone a dirty look — not to mention the middle finger — when you get cut off. And when you’re driving down Ocean Drive at Miami Beach… eyes forward son! Remember, real men love Jesus and aren’t at all interested in looking at women in bikinis.
Another observation. Ronald Reagan (or John Wayne) is riding alone. He is Shane riding off into the sunset, by himself. He is a cross-bearing super-Christian, Bible-Thumping loner.
Preparing for this Thursday’s study, I came across this verse:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Reading that made me think. What would it look like if our standard was serving one another, instead of always acting like we have it all together? What would it look like if “freedom” actually meant freedom from the shame and guilt that keeps us stuck in the approval hamster-wheel?
What if instead of trying to look like Christian men, we lived like Christian men; men loved by God… adopted sons of the God of the universe?
I think a real Christian man is learning not to fake it anymore. He is learning to walk with other men who will sharpen him. The real Christian man has looked at the depths of his sin. He is learning to look outside of himself to something greater. The God of creation has pursued him, and he has realized that there is more to this life than the tiny world of his own construct.
The real Christian man, has come undone.
Bumper stickers tell us to “coexist” with other people. Jesus didn’t tell us to coexist. He commanded us to love, not tolerate. Tolerating and pretending are easy. It’s the type of bumper sticker living we prefer because it requires nothing and makes us (we think) look good. The beauty comes when we no longer have the need to look good, and are compelled instead to love and serve others.
Over the past few months of the “MANALIVE!” study, we have been learning that this Christian walk needs some closer consideration. Maybe there’s some things we had right, but maybe there were some things we had horribly wrong; things that were limiting our view of ourselves, and of God. If you missed out on the study so far, you can still join us this Thursday.