This message is entitled "What Am I?" It is a short study on the different roles we have been designed by God to fulfill as men and as women. First, we are different by design. The emotional and physical differences are perhaps obvious, but what is your? And who defines your role? God or the world? Every day we face a world that loves to seduce us and massage us slowly into conforming to their image. Colossians 2:8 8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Another translation says "...through hollow and deceptive philosophy." This world loves to tell us that position dictates influence. The more you have, the more you are worth. The higher up the ranks you are, the greater you’re worth. The world loves to define our roles by outward appearance. For men, this may come in the form of working out. Do you believe that masculinity deals with strength alone? For women, this may come in the form of fashion and makeup. Do you believe that femininity deals with clothes and cosmetics alone? What defines your view of romance and relationships and sex? Is it the latest TV show or chick-flick or pornography? In God's word, men and women are defined by God himself. Genesis 1:26: 26Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. We are equal in value before God, but with very different roles before God. It is in Genesis 2:18 that God says that man needs a helper. Man needed help. There are differing roles already established by this second chapter in Scripture. Initiator.... Leader.... Helper.... and notice that God defined woman's role before He ever created sex. We must remember that marriage is temporal. I, Jenn, will not be married in Heaven. But I will still be a woman. My role will still be vital. Our roles are reflected in the power of the Gospel to change us. In terms of salvation, there is no difference between men and women. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Okay okay. All very well and good in theory. But how does this look? How does this play out? There is NO perfect example or outline. It takes humility, it takes faith, and it takes charitable judgments. We must cultivate an understand of the opposite sex in understand how difficult their role really is. As a man-understand you are not really a good leader and it takes great faith to follow you. As a woman-understand that you are very difficult o lead. It takes tremendous faith to step out, initiate, and care for you. Understanding this will protect you from complaining and sinful judgment on both men and women's parts. Is there a way to accurately define was masculinity and femininity are, according to Scripture? Of course. Eric used the definition from Piper and Grudem's "Recovering Biblical Masculinity and Femininity." Masculinity-At the heart of mature masculinity, there is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to man's differing relationships. (The key words here are leadership, provisions, and protection.) Femininity-At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men. (The key words here are affirming, receiving and nurturing. It is also important to note that it says worthy men.) General Guidelines for application: 1. Men, ladies are called to help you NOT submit to you. They are called to submit to their husband, not to all men. They are called in their roles to help you. 2. Men, assume the responsibility of leading and initiating in your relationships with women. If you are aiming at nothing, you are bound to hit it every time. If you aren't pursuing friendships with women, do not expect to find a wife. They don't just drop into your lap like Mary Poppins. (And as a side not, women find men who are leaders and initiators incredibly attractive.) 3. Men, initiate conversation. 4. Men, initiate events WITH OTHER'S help. You don't have to do all the work, just lead the way. 5. Men, be a spiritual leader. Set the pace. If you are less mature than a certain women, be provoked to grow. Do not submit to self-pity and passivity and resignation. Eric told this story about his relationship with his wife when they were dating. One day, he asked her "Do I provoke you to love Jesus more and be passionate about Him?" She replied "No. Not at all." So he clarified and said, "Not like CJ provokes you, but just in some small way do I provoke you?" Again she said "No. Not at all. Eric, I have hope for you, but you don't provoke me." Women should be provoked by your example. He challenged the men to stop feasting on the hors d'oeurves of this world and to stop sowing seeds of apathy.
And if you are failing in this aspect, respond by repenting. Don't respond with apathy or self-pity. Self-pity is just uncongratulated pride.
6. Be brothers who protect and look out for women. Be grateful that there are women and you get to serve them. Be aware when women walk in the room. Don't allow your focus to only be on yourself. TREAT THEM AS DAUGHTERS OF THE KING.
7. Be brothers who look to fulfill practical needs for your sisters. For example, when she's moving, HELP HER. Help her with her schoolwork. Change her oil. And if it's a girl you are interested in, break something in her house SO you can fix it.
8. Confront the tendency to laziness and selfishness and cultivate diligence and servant hood. If you think that lazy and selfish hearts go away upon marriage you are GREATLY mistaken. They must be put to death now. Think about when you are at lunch. That first moment when the conversation begins to go from fun and frivolous to fellowship, it's hard. Work through that tiny awkward moment if it exists. And to the OTHER MEN. When a guy actually steps out, don't judge him or mock him under you breath. Support him. Help him glorify God.
General Guidelines for Women:
1. In your relationships with Godly men, encourage and make room for men to practice servant leadership. Let men know when you need help. Encourage men as often as possible when you see them initiate.
2. Look for practical ways to care for your brothers. Pray for them-ask them how and then let them know that you are. Write notes of encouragement. Make him a meal.
3. Feel the freedom to initiate- by using your gift of hospitality. Throw the dinner party, but then have them men pray and lead the conversation. You create the environment for them to lead in.
4. Don't read into a guys actions and initiative and assume he has romantic interested. Say to yourself:
"He’s just a friend. He's just a friend. He’s just a friend. He's just a friend. He’s just a friend."
A man initiating is a man who is serving, not a man who in interested. (And men, when you ARE interested and pursuing, communicate Cleary.)
5. Confront the tendency to sinful judgment and complain. Cultivate charitable judgment and gratitude.
God-in his mercy understands our frame and He knows how we are made. These things should reveal to you how desperately you need God. Lord help me. Lord teach me. It if was simple and easy, you would muss out on the opportunity to realize that God really does exist and God really does reward those who draw near to him.