The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘headship

Loving like Christ and labouring for Christ’s people

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In the adult Sunday School class on the Lord’s day morning we moved from the distortions and perversions that characterise the distinctive roles of women and men – effacement or domination/manipulation rather than submission for women, and abdication or tyranny for men called to loving leadership – and turned to the keynote that the Scripture sounds for husbands: love.

We only got far enough to consider the quality of that love, namely, that it is Christlike. Husbands are called to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph 5.24). This precludes all bitterness (Col 3.19) and requires genuine knowledge (1Pt 3.7) – Christ loved the church as she was, in all our unloveliness. Christ did not love the lovely, but makes the unlovely lovely by his love. However, the distinctive mark of Christlike love is its sacrificial character: he “gave himself for her.” Indeed, “Love seeks not its own.”

Jay Adams challenges us somewhere: “Wives, are you prepared to live for your husband? Husbands, are you prepared to die for your wife?” Now, that can be quickly romanticised. There’s something at least a little cool about being the knight in shining-but-soon-to-be-blackened armour who faces up to the fire-breathing dragon as it charges down upon his gorgeous princess. Without being remotely facetious, a husband must be prepared to stand in front of his wife in any moment of danger. Because a crisis does not form character, but only serves to reveal it, he must determine as a matter of principle that – if he has anything to do with it – for anything to harm his wife, it must get through him first. However, most of us don’t need to defy dragons, take bullets, or jump in front of cars for our wives, at least not regularly. What we do need to do is live with them, dying to self. This is where the rubber hits the road. All our decisions must be governed by a concern for our wife’s well-being. This is not the same as bowing to her every whim: this love seeks what is genuinely best, even when not preferred or even resented. It acts out of a principled love which respects, esteems and delights in its object, and is willing to put even its own legitimate desires over her definite needs, as the Lord Jesus did when he subjected his own wish to avoid the horrors of the cross to his Father’s will for the salvation of the church which he himself loved.

So, when there’s only one of something left, who gets it? When there’s not much juice left in the bottle, who gets the lion’s share? Do you spend money on yourself more readily than on your wife? Do you find yourself pursuing your own selfish ends while masquerading as a loving husband who wants his wife’s best (it just so happens that you know her best, and sadly it’s often not what she thinks she needs, but what you want)? Does life in the home revolve around you, or are you dying daily to self in the most close and profound human relationship that you will ever know?

Then, in the evening, I reached the end of Colossians 1 with a sermon on The gospel minister’s toil. Having considered the minister’s tools and task, we then looked at his attitude to the work. With his eye fixed on Christ’s return, there is effort – he labours: steady, wearisome work to the point of exhaustion, leaving a man feeling as if he has had a beating. In labouring, there is exertion – he strives: he is engaged in concentrated and intense struggle, agonizing like a rugby forward in a five-metre scrum with ten seconds to go and the other team four points in front and trying to play down the clock.

In other words, he is called to a life of total strain on the whole man: even when the bow of his humanity is unstrung, it is so that he might return to the good work of ministry rejuvenated. Ministers need to recognise these demands, and make up their mind to them. There is no room for lazy and careless men, casual corner-cutters.

But how is such a life sustained? Does a man not wear out? No, because in his effort and exertion there is energy, the working of Christ that works in him mightily. He is not superhuman, but the energy by which he effectively works is supernatural, for God supplies and sustains his servants. Our sufficiency is of Christ.

This is the way that the minister is to live. It is the way that anyone enters into the kingdom: the man’s earnest effort, the Lord’s mighty work. It is the way that anyone advances in the kingdom: ministers are to be an example to the flock. They are responsible for the charge given and the standard set, but they cannot answer for the response of God’s people. Every child of God, in accordance with his calling, is to consecrate himself to the King and his kingdom in the same way.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 19 May 2008 at 10:37

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve

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I recommend an insightful post by Robert Bjerkaas on Adam’s naming of his wife in the light of God’s Word to him, and what that means in terms of true, Christian masculinity informed by the realities of creation, fall and redemption. Particularly helpful is the emphasis on language. In our studies on the Christian family in our adult Sunday School, we have sought to recognize the tongue as one of the husband and father’s primary tools in loving leadership of the home. In a society where manly men are believed to be eloquent when they can string multiple grunts together, it is vital that we see the need for intelligent, believing, loving use of words by men in caring for those entrusted to them.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 May 2008 at 10:16

Gospel ministry and gospel confidence

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My father and fellow-pastor was away this past Lord’s day, taking a well-deserved holiday. As a result, I had the privilege of all three ministries.

In the Sunday School hour, we continued to consider the distinctive roles of men and women. As we completed our consideration of the role of women, we paused at the point of transfer to studying out the role of men to look at the various abuses of male headship and female submission to which we are prone. Because the distinctive roles of men and women are grounded upon their essential equality (in terms of created dignity, native depravity and redemptive reality), there ought to be no sense of inferiority or superiority engendered by considering what man is as man, and woman as woman, and what they are in relation to each other. However, men – in the exercise of loving leadership – should not err either by abdication nor tyranny, and women – in the pursuit of positive submission – should not err either by way of domination nor effacement. In considering this, I basically employed material from my friend and mentor Alan Dunn, drawing from his excellent and insightful if occasionally technical little volume, Headship in Marriage (in the Light of Creation and the Fall).

Then, in our morning worship, I continued a long-standing series in Colossians. We are now in the last two verses of the first chapter. Here, we see Paul as a fellow-labourer with God. As one would expect from such a man, there exists a full and precise correspondence between Paul’s activity and God’s stated purposes.

In Colossians 1.28-29, Paul identifies the gospel minister’s tools, task, and toil. The first sermon was on The gospel minister’s tools, which he uses constantly, comprehensively and specifically. The first tool is proclamation. This is the authoritative declaration of Jesus Christ, his glorious person and saving work.
This mighty river contains two currents, two subsidiary tools: admonition and instruction. The first is putting something in the mind of men, getting something laid to their hearts, driving into the will and affections, to awaken and arouse, stimulating reflection and promoting action. The second works on the understanding, definite truth and clear direction being imparted to the inquiring mind, guiding sinners to Christ and directing the child of God in faith and life to the glory of Christ. I hope to go on to consider the task and the toil in due course.

Then, in the evening, we celebrated the Lord’s supper. With the aim of preparing our minds and hearts, I preached on Romans 8.34, under the title, Uncondemnable! We set out the four pillars of Christian confidence, upon which a Christian can stand and ask heaven and earth and hell, “Who is he who condemns? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul offers four answers, any of which is sufficient, all of which together are simply unassailable: it is Christ who died; it is Christ who furthermore is also risen; it is Christ who is even at the right hand of God; it is Christ who also makes intercession for us. It was, I trust, a good day in the house of God, with the morning’s message more of a challenge, and the evening’s more of a consolation.

One particular pleasure in the evening was to have Andy and Sallyann Owen visiting with us. Apparently, my parents had been God’s means of doing good to Sallyann before she was married, and they had hoped to catch up with her. Andy heads up a ministry to the Deaf at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Andy has also authored three books assisting in this work: Signs of Life, Not Hearers Only, and Jesus Used Sign Language (all of which can be ordered through the Tabernacle Bookshop). Having recently taught through Christ’s healing of a deaf and mute man in Mark 7 at our Stepping Stones bible study, having had a substantially deaf father, and having had the privilege of being interpreted for the Deaf by a man with whom I subsequently have had fascinating conversations, it was a delight to speak with Andy and to gain some of his wisdom and insight into this challenging yet rewarding sphere of ministry.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 5 May 2008 at 20:39

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