How the Community of Faith is Challenged to Think About the Future

Good Morning,

I want to expand a little bit on last week’s subject because, one, I find it important, and two, there was such a positive reaction that I think we need to spend another Tuesday considering some implications of the question at hand. In one of the comments when I posted this online there was mention made of the fact that white working-class men do not need more extracurricular activities. In other words, the solution to not having a male WOC is not to create a male WOC, and I find good truth in that. Men and women are different. It’s okay to say that, primarily for the basic reason that the Bible teaches it. I said in the sermon a week ago that part of the lie that the older Feminist movement taught was that to be a perfect woman you need to take on male characteristics and male roles in order to be whole. It’s okay to be a man and it’s okay to be a woman. God made both. While book groups and discussions can have their place and provide helpful support, men don’t necessarily flourish in that kind of environment. To help them find their way there is more utility in goal-oriented interests. I have heard more blessed reaction to the joyful time of grace when we moved the pews at Bethany than any other event in my sevenish years as pastor.

There is something to be learned from that, if we want to listen to it.

For today’s prayer and worship help I want to ask a question about the difference that we saw in the past with godly men and what made them that way. If you’ve spent any time around me you’ve heard me talk about my grandaddy. Now, like most folks my mom’s and my dad’s dads had different names. One was grandpa, the other was grandaddy. While both men of God they could not have been more different. Grandpa Glaser was a Colorado-born Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering whose academic career was sidelined by World War II and service as an officer in the Navy of the South Pacific. Grandaddy Dempsey was a good ole boy from small town West Virginia who likewise served in the Army during the police action in Korea. Coming home he quietly toiled away as a financial secretary at a local oil company for fifty years. While they may have had their economic distinctions, they both faithfully served their mainline Presbyterian churches for as long as I knew them. There was more to their labors for Christ than just it was their turn. What drove that? In talking to their children one of the things that they sought was to deal with difficulties in their growing up years. Grandaddy’s dad had died of drink when he was seven and grandpa’s family was unique to put it mildly. An engine of purpose to ensure their youngin’s didn’t experience that disfunction largely drove their personal piety.

This gets at something which is central to what men need in our day and age, and if I am using the example of those who grew up one hundred years ago to buttress my point it means that these particularities are more than just universal. If you read the word of God you’ll see that the admonitions given to men in their leadership responsibilities reminds them that their calling is future-oriented, while the same is true of women to a similar degree (see 1 Tim. 2:15) there is weight given to the headship nature of that work. Adam’s sin being laid on the heart of all who descend from him is the negative aspect of this. Christ’s righteousness being laid on the heart of all who are united to Him by faith is the positive aspect of this. David’s promise to Jonathan is born out in the life of Mephibosheth. David’s sin is seen not only in the death of the child born to him and Bathsheba, but in the generational disfunction which comes in his grandson Rehoboam.

Men need to understand that their place in the kingdom of God is not about themselves, but of the kith and kin which follows. Jesus’ call to deny oneself and pick up your cross and follow after Him has consequences which speak to how Bethany ARP is even here today. We’ve spent the last couple of months on the Lord’s Day evening talking about the history of our church and the denomination of which she is a member. Life was incredibly hard in the eighteenth century. Our forefathers in the faith literally carved out our community with their bare hands. Why did they do that? The reasons are not complicated, so that their grandchildren would have a safe place to feed their great-grandchildren and raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and we need to understand that this goes for those who we influence spiritually as much as those we gain from our own blood. The history of the church is filled with godly bachelors and other men who were a giant influence by example and blessing.

There is an old proverb which says that we plant trees not so that we may enjoy them, but that when our progeny reach our age they may lounge under the shade of the branches. The same can be said for why we read the Bible, why we worship, why we pray, why we love Jesus. Yes, there are personal benefits, including our own salvation born out of the free grace of God, we love Him because He first loved us, but as I have noted before the promises of Jehovah are for y’all, not you. The entire ethos of the old and new testaments is about the community of faith, not our personal, individual, identity. Whether it is the people of God in Israel or in the Church, we do what we do for the collective benefit of all those who bear our spiritual name and likeness. Not only is this the engine of the scriptures, it is the foundation of why we baptize babies.

In closing, part of the secret sauce of reaching working-class men for Christ is the same truth that the Scriptures teach for bringing all human beings into the kingdom made without hands. It is helping people to see in the boldness of the love of Christ that belonging matters. The future matters in the wholesale victory of the cross and the empty tomb, that the work done today for the betterment of the united body of believers is what we should all be striving for. Its why petty grievances destroy a local church, when everyone is seeking their own rather than the other. That’s how the world works, not the living embodiment of our Lord’s sacrifice of praise. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things will be added unto you. Who has not forsaken mothers and brothers for my sake and has yet not received a thousandfold more in their place? That is the focus we need to give to men especially, but all of us need to take to heart.

Last word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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