I recently had a guy college student in my home, a man seeking to follow Christ and walk in purity. He was lamenting over how a woman he knows — herself also a Christ-follower — was, in his opinion, acting immodestly in her interactions with the men she knew. He talked about the actions he saw her engaging in and how it was affecting his heart. As he spoke my heart went out to him because I’ve been there. It seems to hurt the most when it’s someone you have feelings for or perhaps once had feelings for, but it’s still sad when it’s someone who’s just a friend. You can’t really expect much different from someone who doesn’t know Christ, but from someone who has begun that relationship, someone who has henceforth been commanded to walk in a manner worthy of the calling they’ve received, it is particularly frustrating and heart-breaking. I speak this criticism over not just this one individual, and certainly not just over women, but over all who claim the name of Christ and yet take lightly the need for modesty in various aspects of relating to the opposite sex.
I have my doubts whether any of these thoughts are groundbreaking. Some aren’t even fully formed. But the subject has been weighing heavily on my mind today. If nothing else, I find it cathartic to write them out.
I can’t think of a more universal human experience than pain. I have numerous friends and family who are physically broken. Everyone I know is emotionally wounded. Pain has driven many to repentance and many more to bitterness. God claims both to be the creator of calamity and to work all things together for good for those who love Him. So it would seem that God has a purpose for pain.
But even the physical world has a purpose for pain. Without a doubt, you want to know when you have your hand on a piping hot burner — even if that means experiencing pain — far more than you want irreparable damage to your skin, nerves, and muscles. Pain can warn us when we’re doing something we shouldn’t be doing. Pain is also a teacher, often far more effective than simple instruction. If I am careless enough to place my hand on that hot burner even after being instructed to take care, I will surly learn my lesson after I’ve been injured.
I recently asked a group of college-aged men to tell me what their favorite manly movie was. I received a variety of different responses such as Braveheart, 300, Die Hard, and The Patriot. The movie cited as a favorite the most often was Gladiator, which made me smile as it happens to be my favorite manly movie, too. Against all odds Maximus, once a proud general, now a slave fighting in gladiatorial arenas, avenges the murder of his family and overthrows a dictator by killing the tyrant Emperor Commodus.
Men are inspired by stories of other men who take action, who don’t let anything get in their way. It’s why men are drawn to these types of movies, even more so than because of the violence and explosions that typically accompany them. Each man wants to do something great — to be something great — when it really counts.
I asked this question about movies at a workshop I was teaching at a men’s retreat about being a man of action. Mine was one of five workshop choices these men had, and I wasn’t surprised by the large turnout. You see, I think a lot of young men who are trying to be more like Christ hope that there’s more to their spiritual journey than being obedient to a set of rules. They want to know they can live a meaningful life, that they can do and be something great when it really counts. What’s more, I think they want to know that they can live that meaningful life on purpose.