When I attended Nyack College, a Christian liberal arts college, we had opportunities on Friday to go into New York City to minister to people. I did this for two years getting to see and experience some pretty amazing things in lower Manhattan in the Bowery and Chinatown areas. However, my first experience was not a positive one. I remember shadowing an upper classmen when I was a freshman. He tried to share the Gospel with a couple of guys in Queens, and let’s just say no one was brought into the Kingdom on that day. In fact, it pushed them away because the upper classman let them know that following Christ made him better than them. Ouch! To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was cut out for this kind of evangelism. I knew that I wasn’t better; I was just saved by His grace.
Doesn’t following Jesus make us better people? You would think so. David Kinnaman, author and President of Barna Group, stated that in research for his book, Unchristian, they found that “84% of young non-Christians say they know a Christian personally, yet only 15% say the lifestyles of those believers are noticeably different in a good way.”
Now, the intent of this post isn’t to criticize the church or believers. The question I am raising is this: does knowing Jesus make me a better person? Does following Jesus make me a better man? To be honest, I am not a big fan of the “Real Men Love Jesus” phrase. I think the saying falls into that category of, “I am better than you if you don’t love Jesus.”
Is loving Jesus enough? Is it the “secret sauce” in being a better man? I wrestle with this because I know I struggle with sin in my life. In my last post, “Real Men,” I quoted Scripture from Ezekiel, “and I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” God was looking for a man like Ezekiel who was after His heart. Throughout Scripture we see loving God and keeping His commandments as one principle (1 John 2) He was looking for a man who was about His agenda. He was looking for a man who was submitted to His calling. So instead of “Real Men Love Jesus,” maybe a better saying would be “Jesus Makes Me a Better Man.”
This past weekend I went to Maranatha Bible Camp in Maxwell, NE and spoke at a daddy-daughter event. I took Anna, my 9 year old, with me. We had a great time. There will be another blog post about that experience, but meeting those other dads was awesome. One of the dads spoke about his father-in-law being a defensive coordinator for one of the best defenses in the NFL a few years ago. That is when an idea struck me – we are all striving to be the best. When we see success we want to emulate it. Let me repeat that; when we see success we want to emulate it. Mull on that for a second…what behaviors or attitudes am I emulating?
Seeing success, regardless if it is in sports or in the workplace, we want to emulate that success. We want to go from being good to great. We want to be better. So the question for us in regards to being a “better man” is this: is the way I love and lead my wife and kids worth repeating? Do my children want to emulate my success in the home? Do they see me becoming a better man and in the process becoming a better husband and father? Because the reality is they are going to be emulating something. Do my children see something noticeably different about me?
It is my opinion that Jesus doesn’t make me a better man compared to other men. He just helps me become the man he is calling me to be. Ephesians 4:1-4 is a passage that truly captures being a better man for me. “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
I challenge you to live a life worth emulating. A life that shows how Jesus makes you a better man. Lead a life worthy of your calling. Not my calling or someone else’s calling, but yours. You have one. Get after it.