Warning: If this offends you, I am sorry. I mean no offense, only inspiration. Further, this is particularly aimed at men.
A man I was close to who was struggling in his marriage explained that he feared for his life. I was unfazed by the statement and insisted that he try to reconcile with his wife, no matter the danger he felt. In a moment of frustration he looked at me and said, “What do you want me to do, John!? Die!?”
Now understand, this was one of those Holy Spirit moments when a surge of power comes from your toes as you respond with surprising softness, “yes.” Immediately I thought of Ephesians 5, “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.” The wife is called to submit (Paul’s words not mine, get mad at the Bible, not the reader.) The Husband is called to die!
Now pause here. Some men would have no problem taking a bullet, fighting off actual home invaders, or jumping out of a plan to save their wives. They just don’t want to do the dishes, get up early and take care of the baby, mow the lawn, fix the sink… they just want to watch the game, play the game, or have some “me time”… These men don’t know what it means to die. These men may not even know Jesus.
The death Paul is talking about is the same one Jesus went through. It is a self denial, the same as Jesus, who lived a perfect life, denied Himself EVERY SINNFUL PLEASURE, denied himself other non-sinful pleasures, healed the lame, loved the unlovable, forgave the broken, stood-up against the self righteous, fought off demons, starved Himself for the sake of knowing God, broke Himself for the homeless and destitute, denied Himself sleep and rest for the sake of prayer, and forgave the very people who nailed Him to a cross. This is the model of death Paul is talking about… and you wanna complain about dishes, or mowing the lawn, or not having enough time to play your games, or not having “me time?” Really?
Jesus gives us more insight in Luke 9:23, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me!” If you want to obey the Lord, you must die! And not just die at the end of your life, but all through it.
Now I recognize that I come from an unusual line of men who do not settle for less than self-sacrificing love. My father was a medical doctor who would wake at the crack of dawn, perform surgical procedures and work until 6pm, come home, eat with the family and spend the evening investing in his wife and children until late and then do it all over again. My brother would love to have time to sit and write the next great paradigm shift book, but he is too busy being an AWESOME FATHER to be selfish. My grandfather work so insanely hard for his family that someone saw him painting a garage and said, “that guy should sell diesel engines and educate people!” So I realize that my examples are extreme in today’s world of half-hearted men. But I have seen what it takes to die and I have seen the joy that accompanies such a death and the fruit of the labor and it is greater than any selfish pleasure I could ever desire! For, “what you sow does not come to life, unless it dies!” (1 Cor. 15:36b) Just because you don’t have the example I do, does not mean you don’t have the Savior I do, and HE is our example! To pursue His example is the greatest joy!
The second objection comes, “what if I am afraid for my life!?” Now now… no snide remarks about Jesus’ fear on the rock at Gethsemane or the countless other examples of martyrs for the faith and how little manning up and doing the dishes compares to all of that. Instead, let us take a different tact: you want Peace in life, in your home, or in your marriage. Let’s listen to the voice of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the subject of peace:
“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture, and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to mistrust, and this mistrust in turn brings forth war. To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”
You want peace? You must risk death. Only absolute surrender to the call of God can possibly lead to peace. How this risk looks in your specific situation may be different than mine, but it cannot include a pursuit of your own safety and selfish desires.
Men of God, it is time to stop being boys… We must cease the pursuit of our own happiness and pursue holiness. It is time we man up and die for our wives and live like Jesus… You don’t get to rest when you get home! You are Jesus to your family, so carry your cross and live it like you’re supposed to. You can rest when you’re dead (that statement actually has incredibly interesting implications when considered in the context of this blog). I want to be able to say what Paul does in 2 Corinthians 4:11! I want to be the father who fatherless children can look to! I want to be the man of GOD my world needs, not the pathetic coward this world deserves. I want to be what Jesus has called me to be!
Side note to young women: don’t marry a boy of games… wait for a man of God.