Man Created #1: Outside the Garden

 

Man Created #1: Outside the Garden

 There is a tool in my garage that I have no idea what it’s for.  I wouldn’t even know what to call it except its name is printed on the handle, which reads: “slip and lock-nut wrench.”  I’m not even sure why I have it.  I’ve never used it.  It just takes up space, and as of right now, pretty worthless to me. I’ve almost tossed it out a couple of times.  I don’t know what it is for.

 When the culture turns its collective back on God, rejecting God, ignoring the Creator’s handiwork,  that culture, those people, end up not knowing what certain things are for. Those things may even have a label attached, but the culture is clueless.  The Apostle Paul describes this phenomenon as having one’s heart darkened (Romans 1:21-23). What is intuitively obvious becomes veiled. One such thing is not a thing at all, it’s a man.  Our culture has forgotten what a man is all about.  In such an environment men forget what their purpose is and they become worthless.  This month Hallmark created Father’s Day. In honor, we are starting a series of messages concerning masculinity.  It’s going to be a manly man-month as we seek to discover what it means to be a man in the kingdom of God.

 Do you know that God invites everyone, men and women, old and young, to become citizens in the Kingdom of God?  The kingdom is not a place, it's rather a relationship, a right relationship, and in sync with designer specifications relationship, a righteous relationship with God, Others, and yourself.  The Scripture reveals that people are not as God intended.  We were to live and flourish in communion with God, in fellowship with others, in peace with ourselves.  The creation story describes how humanity got into the turmoil it is in now. The human predicament is estrangement because of sin.  To set things right again the Gospel, the good news informs us that God incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus lives a life of obedience to the will of the one He called the Father.  Being true to His mission, Jesus willingly sacrificed His own life that atonement for all humanity was made. Jesus is a real hero.  His sacrifice makes it possible for you to be reconciled to God.  If you do not have a right relationship with God here’s what I suggest you do:  Ask for it.  God responds to the person who seeks Him.  As you search, God will guide you, you will come to a time when you realize the state of all your relationships is tainted with estrangement.  You will come to a time when you realize the Jesus offers you reconciliation, the ability to be reconciled.  You will come to a time when you will take Jesus up on His offer making a sacred vow to be His disciple, learning how to live your life to the full.  God is faithful to the one who seeks.  God will forgive your sins, put his Holy Spirit in you, and start the transformation process that turns you into the person He always wanted you to be.  You’ll be a citizen of the kingdom. If you want to seek God, let me know.  I can help you in your search.

 Our politically correct culture wants tame men:  Men that are nice; Men that are safe; Men that are dutiful to the cultural standards of the moment;  Men in cubicles. Religious Christianity hasn’t helped men at all.  In past lessons we have distinguished between religions Christianity with its rules and regulations that seek to manipulate God and Relational Christianity with its heart to heart, mind to mind, intimate relationship with God.  Religious Christianity has bought into the model of the culture of the nice guy, turning the man into a “fitting housel hold pet for pale curates and pious old ladies” (John Eldredge, Wild At Heart p. 20).  Religious Christianity favors the monk in his brown dress with the top of his head shaved along with his clean-shaven face; Men that passively sit in pews.  That stinks!  Gentlemen, what reputation would you rather have, what do you want said of you: “He’s a really nice guy” or “He’s dangerous, but he’s good”? 

Men were created dangerous.  Do you have someone in your life who is enamored with the nature documentaries, all the flora and fauna in harmony, until they see the lion take down the gazelle? Nature is inherently dangerous.  Around here a killer prowls the neighborhoods, we call that killer a coyote.  It eats your pets, it may even eat your kid.  Little dogs beware of the eagle.  On the mountain trails we have mountain lions, they can go after full-grown people.  Nature is dangerous, rip tides, lightning storms, earthquakes, tornados, drought, flooding, and tsunamis.  Temperatures too hot, too cold, dust storms and avalanches, volcanos, and quicksand.  Along with the carnivores, let’s not forget the bites and stings of poisonous insects and plants. We’ve done our best to civilize nature, we’ve removed as much as the danger that we can, and are lulled into the illusion that nature is nice.  Nature is beautiful, nature was the power to refresh the soul. but it’s also dangerous. 

 Men were created dangerous because God created them in the wild.  A man’s roots are in the wilderness.  In the Genesis story, God created the man and then puts him in the garden with the mission of taking care of it. 

 Genesis 2:7-8 (MSG)

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul! Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it.

 Men are dangerous because they have been empowered to carry out their mission: to nurture, to protect, to work.  The man God formed was not apathetic, not a wimp, but aggressive and strong.  When I think about the task of caring for the Garden I get this image of pioneer days. Men left the comfort of the city and struck out into the untamed lands and created a homestead, built a home, made a farm, planted a garden, provided, protected, and raised a family.  To do that takes one tough customer. I don’t think that pioneer was interested in making money as much as making a life and leaving a legacy.

 Genesis 2:15 (MSG)

God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order.

Men are dangerous because they have been charged by God to be His representative on earth, to be responsible for the care of the creation (Gen 1:26).  The one responsible is also the one given the power to carry out that responsibility.  The man’s physiology is designed to carry out the task, to complete the mission.

The first man was created in the wild, in nature, outside of the Garden.  The first man was undomesticated (John Eldredge, Wild At Heart, p. 4).  I’ve boasted to Sherri that I may be trained but I remain untamed, at least in my mind.  The first man was created in the image of God, the nature of God is imprinted upon him.  When we examine Jesus we see what that nature is like in action on the streets.

 Luke 19:10 (MSG)

For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost."

 Jesus has a mission.  He is passionate about the mission.  Nothing is more important than accomplishing the mission.

 Matthew 19:13-14 (MSG)

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off.  But Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me.

 Jesus is tender, kids wanted to be around him. He was approachable.

 John 2:13-16 (MSG)

Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem.  He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, "Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a shopping mall!"

 Jesus is Ferocious, he takes a stand for what is right

 John 8:10-11 (MSG)

Jesus stood up and spoke to her. "Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?"  "No one, Master." "Neither do I," said Jesus. "Go on your way. From now on, don't sin."

 Jesus is Forgiving, with a forgiveness that sets people free.

 Matthew 23:13-16 (MSG)

"I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either. "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned. "You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity!

 Jesus is Confrontational, He suffers no fools.

 Mark 1:40-42 (MSG)

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy.

 Jesus is compassionate,  he helps the helpless.

 John 5:19 (MSG)

So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.

 Jesus is a man under authority.

 Matthew 26:53 (MSG)

Don't you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready?

 Jesus is a man of self-control.

 John 19:30 (NIV)

Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Jesus is victorious.

 Jesus, a man on a mission;  look at Him, valiant, brave, courageous, strong, kind, blunt, a fighter, and self-sacrificing. Read the gospels you will discover that Jesus was not some nice domesticated man.  He was tough, facing every challenge, calling out the liars, caring for the sick, casting out demons and comforting the distraught, protecting his disciples, and turning the religious system on its head. What we see in Jesus is a love that knows no bounds when it comes to completing His mission. Jesus is fierce and passionate, fully alive. 

 In the heart of a domesticated male are anger, lust, and fear.  When a man is restrained from being fierce he becomes angry.  The fierceness we’re talking about is not vicious, but rather the kind of ferocity it takes to complete a mission, the kind of aggression the pioneer needs to chop down the tree, the kind of brutality that protects his loved ones from the killer.  When a man is restrained from being passionate by the demands of a civilized world trapped in the drudgery of a job instead of engaged in a calling, he becomes lustful.  He wants what he can’t have, worse he forgets what he wants.  That’s one reason why porn is a problem amongst male believers. He looks for a dopamine high in all the wrong places.  When a man is restrained from being capable, from knowing that “yes I can,” from knowing that he can be counted on in the tough times, fear fills his heart.  He poses, projecting the image of what he thinks a man should be, but it’s only an act with expensive props. 

 It’s in anger, lust, and fear that a man goes bad.  He uses his advantages for selfish gain.  He exploits instead of nurtures, he destroys instead of building, he retreats instead of protecting.  Wars are fought, women are raped, children are left fatherless.  The bully plays it safe, only taking on what he thinks he can handle while shying away from everything that represents a threat to his masquerade.  He looks like a tough guy, but he’s really a poser.

 It’s in anger, lust, and fear that a man goes bad.  He refuses to be found out that he doesn’t have what it takes, so he retreats, becomes passive, he becomes emotional aloof.  He doesn’t speak up for himself, he is silent, never saying what he wants because deep down he doesn’t know.  He also plays it safe, doesn’t take the risk, doesn’t venture out.  He’s a coward on the inside.  He hides behind the circumstances; he doesn’t commit; he silently blames others for his predicament.  Most often he hates himself.  If you hate yourself you can love anything.

 So what we see are driven men, striving to show the world that they have what it takes.  So what we see are absent men hiding in watching sports and playing video games.  Both the aggressive and passive man lives a life of desperation, both are in misery.   Both are prisoners trapped in a culture that says be a man and then hand him an apron.

A man needs a mission, something he is passionate about.  He needs to live for something bigger than himself.   He needs authority to help guide him.  He needs to know that he is capable and competent, that he has what it takes. He needs the challenge to prove it.  He needs self-respect from getting the job done.  He needs something worth dying for.  Then he uses his strengths for good.

 In the quiet do you feel the anger, lust, and fear deep inside? We surround ourselves with noise, busy schedules, distractions entertainments, and addictions.  Are you not sure of your purpose?  Are you not sure you're capable?  Having you given up on your dreams?  Do you feel the trap of the domesticated male?  

Then listen to what Jesus said:

 Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

 Freedom for prisoners, released for the oppressed.  Go to Jesus sir, and find out who you really are.

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