I’m not a camping guy.
While I’m at it, let me throw a few other confessions out there:
- I don’t own a gun.
- "Braveheart" isn’t my favorite movie.
- I’ve never attended a wild game dinner and I often eat chicken rather than beef.
Feels good to get all that off my chest.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of my likes and dislikes; it’s that I recognize that at some point in the evangelical world that we’ve come to define manhood based on characteristics like these, and if that’s the standard, I guess I don’t quite measure up.
Is that, then, what it means to be truly masculine?
Is the measure of a man his willingness to paint his chest blue and hunt wild boar with pointed sticks?
I don’t think so; further, I think this measurement is a corruption of the sense of adventure that lies inside men.
Some years ago, John Eldredge brought this sense of adventure to light when he wrote a profoundly influential book called "Wild at Heart." It’s true, that sense might be latent in some men, but it’s there, hardwired into all of us.
But, as with all good ideas, there is something inside of us that has the tendency to take a good and right idea and fashion it into something it was never intended to be. And we are, I believe, living in a time now then our sense of adventure has been corrupted. In short, our longing for adventure has morphed into a compulsion to escape. Here’s what that corruption looks like in real terms:
It means that whenever we are confronted with the daily drudgery of life, we want to turn and run. We are confronted with things like holding down a steady job, paying our taxes, doing the daily commute, and we rebel.
We sanitize that rebellion, cloaking it in spiritual terms arguing that clearly God didn’t intend for me to live a life of boredom. He must have more out there for me than this. So, armed with this corruption of the need for adventure, we run. But it’s not just men that are running.
People of every shape and size are escaping to amusement, fathers are escaping responsibility, mothers are escaping boredom, employees are escaping the daily grind. Through the crowd of those running the other way comes the simple call from the Bible:
Not a very exciting word, is it? It’s not nearly as exciting as words like run, or play, or jog, or hunt, or fight. These words are active; they’re about motion and progress. But standing is the kind of thing any old person can do because it’s just any old action.
I don’t think so. I get a picture in my mind when I hear the word “stand.” It’s a picture of strength and stability.
It’s a vision of quiet confidence and certain security. It’s an image of determination and assurance.
In the Christian world, we really like the words of action, and we should. The apostle Paul did. He told us to run. To fight. To train. But he also told us to stand:
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand therefore… (Ephesians 6:10-14).
Funny that in this passage standing doesn’t sound too passive; it sounds fortified and intentional. It takes armor to stand, and then when you have stood, to still stand.
It’s not a glamorous call, but neither is it a complicated on. It’s a call that is fleshed out in a myriad of ways every single day:
When you don’t want to stay in a marriage that seems dissatisfying, stand.
When it would be easier to simply turn on the TV rather than take an active interest in your children, stand.
When the preschool needs another worker at church, stand.
When the jokes and coarse humor are being spouted at work, stand.
When you don’t want to confront the injustice in the world and instead close the garage door every night, stand.
There are a lot of chances to run. You can run because you’re bored. You can run because the grass is greener. You can run because you have taken the idea of adventure and elevated it to god-like status in your life. But today is the day to stand.
I’m not sure, but I think I’d rather be the guy that’s standing in a regular pair of jeans and a T-shirt next to my job, my family, and my church rather than the guy who is running around with his shirt off constantly chasing a sense of adventure that will never truly satisfy.
Michael Kelley is director of Discipleship at LifeWay Christian Resources and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life. His previous works include Holy Vocabulary, The Tough Sayings of Jesus, and Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. Michael and his wife have three children and live in Nashville, Tennessee.