It’s fascinating to me that modern portrayals of feminine power tend to show women doing macho things.
Women superheroes show their power by beating up the baddies.
In fantasy settings they don armor, or wield dangerous magic.
And in modern settings, female fighters strut into war like it’s an ice-cream parlor they’re about to destroy for gicks and kiggles (say it out loud and you’ll taste my lame sense of humor).
I don’t know about you, but most of the time these portrayals ring false.
Also, they tend to be boring, and misogynistic.
When I think of my mother, who’s a strong woman, the strength I admire in her never resided in biceps, or a psychopathic willingness to dominate and kill.
And it’s nearly exactly the same with modern portrayals of masculinity.
I never looked up to my father because I perceived that he would throw himself into the frontlines of a war.
The last thing I wanted was a dad who went to war.
I looked up to my dad because he was emotionally strong, because he protected me and guarded me, because he taught me how to live well and modeled it in his own life by serving me and the rest of my family without grumbling.
I looked up to him because he was strong enough to not hurt people.
He never viewed servanthood as slavery. He viewed it as a privilege, and nothing in my life has made me feel more loved.
Take a look at popular culture’s portrayal of power, gender, and family, and you’ll be as confused as a squirrel on a freeway when trying to understand the Bible’s perspective.
Jesus said that the first would be last (Matthew 20:16).
That the greatest of all will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)
That whoever puffs himself up will be brought down, and that whoever humbles himself will be lifted. (Matthew 23:12)
By putting ourselves under God’s service, we paradoxically find freedom. If we’re weary with all the fighting, all the pushing to get our way, we can serve him and find rest and contentment. (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Bible commands that everyone should submit to one another in reverence to Christ. Women are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to submit by serving their wives as Christ served the church (and died for it). (Ephesians 5:21-33)
This isn’t just a cultural issue, it’s a Gospel issue. It’s a, “ignore this and you’ll never be free,” issue.
There seems to be a massive surge of men and women not wanting to lose their independence and power by having children. They even get surgeries and celebrate the fact that they’ll never be parents, as if this is their ticket to proverbial freedom.
Yet the Bible tells us that children are a reward, and a heritage from God. That they’re like arrows in the hands of a warrior, and that a man who fills his hand with them will be blessed, and will not be put to shame when he contends with his opponents in court (Psalm 127:3-5).
Children, in Scripture, are viewed as a way to gain power, not a way to lose power. So, why do parts of our culture believe that fathering or mothering is a prison? That children are nothing more than parasites?
Because their values are backwards, and are incompatible with reality.
When I talk to single parents, or to any parent who’s mildly healthy, they will tell you that their children saved their life, or that their children are the greatest blessing in their life, and that they wouldn’t want their lives to be any other way.
The point of this is not to illustrate that we should have children.
The point, instead, is that what is true in parenting is true in many other areas of life.
Paradoxically, in the real world, you must accept responsibility to find freedom. You must give up your ability to make decisions to find power. Humble yourself to become truly great. Serve to lead. Work to find rest.
We live in such a selfish society that it’s easy to adopt wrongful individualistic philosophies and never question whether they’re holding us back from living truly free.
Why does this matter?
Because it’s about Jesus.
God opposes the proud. (James 4:6) If your view of power is that you have to dominate others, you’re acting out of pride. And God will oppose you. You won’t find intimacy with Christ acting that way. You won’t find the freedom Christ offers by living such a life, or holding such values.
Humility is indispensable in our journey toward an intimate, loving relationship with the God of the universe.
The more we humble ourselves and set our hearts on him, the closer he draws to us. The more we depend on him, the more he empowers us to live how he commands us to.
Christ tells us that if we treasure our ability to sacrifice our time to be with him, he will give us joy, freedom, and power.
Joy: in being close with him and with others.
Freedom: from the domination of our evil desires (the ability to say “NOT TODAY SATAN!”).
Power: to build others up and serve the world.
In giving our life to Christ, we receive more than we could ever dream of having on our own.
Power doesn’t reside in us being macho. Power resides in surrender to (and dependence on) the God of the universe.
In serving, he makes us strong.
God, give us the strength to serve you and everyone around us with humility and joy. Free us from wrongful conceptions about who we’re supposed to be, and what we’re supposed to act like. By your Word, give us wisdom, show us how you want us to behave and think. Make us into shining examples of your goodness so that the world can say nothing negative about us. Amen.
What is one way you could serve your parents, spouse, children, friends, or workplace better this week? Write that one thing down, and do it on the first chance you get.