The movie Braveheart is barbaric, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why so many godly men secretly enjoy it!
The definition of a barbarian is: “a member of a community or tribe not belonging to one of the great civilizations.” (i.e. Greek, Roman, Christian).
Rome was civilized, so it’s appropriate that the first Christians were barbarians to Rome. Tragically, it wasn’t long before Rome seduced and civilized the early church. The church did, in fact, become Roman…she became civilized.
What is also telling is that Judaism became civilized as well. The religious elite became so good at religion that they had no room for God, let alone a nomadic Messiah! No wonder the rabbi from Nazareth was such a barbarian to the religious leadership [See Matthew 15:2]. He simply did not fit their organized, institutionalized, and systematized religion.
“Barbarians are not welcome among the civilized and are feared among the domesticated.”
– Erwin McManus
Since I have left full-time church ministry, I am confident now of what I felt for years to be true as a pastor:
Godly men are longing to express their Spirit-led barbaric and uncivilized tendencies to be strong masculine men.
Most men long to be strong, intentional, assertive, and appropriately forceful, without fear of correction or domestication in the expression of their faith. They are tired of being feminized and minimized for being strong, masculine men. They perceive that the Institutional Church produces men who are vanilla. Because of their perception they are content to stay away from the church with no desire to emulate the domesticated lives of Christian men they encounter.
Obviously not all men who are part of the organized church are feminized. In fact – praise God – many of my best friends are godly masculine men and they attend and contribute to their local churches! If you ask them, however, if their church appeals to strong men they will overwhelming say – “NO!” From the typical sermon to the ministry opportunities promoted, church-life comes across with a distinctly feminine flavor.
If a guy attends church and participates in the prescribed programs, without some type of masculine discipleship they will soon become spiritually homogenized.
If I seem a little harsh about institutional churches… I am not alone.
Alan Hirsch’s excellent work, The Forgotten Ways, cannot be more highly recommended. He writes:
“I am critical of institutionalism not because I think it is a bad idea, but only because through my study of the phenomenal Jesus movements I have come to the unnerving conclusion that God’s people are more potent by far when they have little of what we would recognize as church institution in their life together.” – The Forgotten Ways, p.23
I believe that the Holy Spirit is raising up a new breed of Barbarian-Follower. He is the type of man that refuses to go along with the corporate paradigm of the church that desires to produce middle managers, sensitive men, and a domesticated approach to the Scriptures and the way they are “suppose” to express their faith.
In reality, every church has many strong Apostolic leaders (Ephesians 4:11). The average church simply does not authenticate, legitimize, or provide a context for these men to thrive. These Christ-followers are filled with vision, drive, wisdom and a tenacity to tear down strongholds (1 Corinthians 10:5) and establish fortified territories for Christ and His kingdom in unchartered areas of society (Romans 15:20). These godly barbarians do not desire feminized messages, soft relational sermons that appeal only to the heart, and do virtually nothing to engage their spiritual manhood. They love Christ deeply, but they do not want to be part of a refined faith. They desire to confront the pagan culture of their day, but also want permission to be the way God has created them!
It’s fascinating to me that the Apostle Paul commanded the godly men of Corinth to “act like men.” He writes, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13, NASB. Even in pagan cultures there was an understanding that men were to act a certain way. (Consider 1 Samuel 4:9).
In the last months I have had opportunity to teach at several men’s groups. I have taught some of the attributes of God that emphasize His “masculine side”, if you will.
- Jeremiah 20:11 (NASB) “The LORD is with me like a dread champion.”
- Hebrews 12:23 (NIV) “You have come to God, the judge of all men…”
- Hebrews 12:29 (ESV) “For our God is a consuming fire.”
- Exodus 15:3 (ESV) “The LORD is a man of war.
Did you know that there is an ethos in any given person or ministry? Ethos is the characteristic spirit or disposition manifested because of one’s belief system or ministry values.
A few months ago, I engaged in a “heated” discussion with some individuals about the move “2016” by Dinesh D’Souza. I expressed my opinion from a biblical perspective about the challenges our country is facing and will continue to face. The next day two people that clearly were not on my side of the issue engaged me. I interacted with them about their new marriage, and how Linda and I have attempted to live life together. I also added the dimension of how we might consider changing some laws of the land that actually might help to decrease the divorce rate. The gal looked and me and said, “Dale, you are a true radical.” She was very sincere, and I responded with genuine thanks.
The point in all of this teaching is that there is a “good fight” that we ought to be engaged in and are called to be strong and courageous enough to inter into it. Are you engaging in the “good fight”?
This week, seek to be intentional and engage people with the radical Good News of the Kingdom of God!