A couple of weeks back I was on my way to the Dwell conference, an Acts 29 event. I was listening to Lou Fellingham’s new album on my iPhone. As I neared the meeting place the track “My God Cares” came on. Without any warning, I found myself moved to tears. The compassion of God impacted me once again. I was caught up in the moment, experiencing the love of God, and amazed by his unrelenting desire to save.
But then a wave of slight anxiety hit me. I was about to go into a public meeting. It was with Acts 29 no less. Acts 29 who are well known for emphasizing true masculinity. I do, of course, totally agree that we must encourage our men to be manly. I agree that effeminate Christians are causing massive damage to the cause of Christ. How then could I go into an event like this with eyes still wet from tears? I choked back my emotional outpouring, containing myself once again. I did not want to make a bad impression on my masculine Acts 29 friends. After all, I don’t cry often, but they wouldn’t know that would they?
Since then I have found myself thinking often about my embarrassment over my uncontrolled emotions. I suppose that similar thoughts hold many of us back from any form of exuberance or heartfelt response to God in worship, especially in public. Where, though, do we get the idea that it is not manly to be floored by the ruler of the universe? Do we think we are stronger than God himself? Do we think he wants us to be like some foolish young pup of a boy, aggressively strutting himself in the face of a master fighter twice his size, twice his age, and able to knock him out with one blow? No, eating the floor is a more appropriate and wise response to the God that we serve. It is very wrong for us to feel we can and should be unmoved by him. It is not masculine to forget our true place before someone so much more powerful than us!
There is, however, an even more important point here. We must not elevate our own subculture’s interpretation of what is a true man above Scripture. Throughout the Bible we see examples of men who, without becoming effeminate, were very much in touch with their emotions. It is impossible to read the psalms of David without appreciating that he was a man very much in touch with his emotions and able to express them incredibly eloquently. I doubt anyone would have dared suggest to this deadly warrior that he was somehow less of a man as a result!
Most importantly of all, Jesus was the ultimate man. He was the perfect man. He fulfilled all God’s intentions for the male of our species in every way. Yet, in the shortest verse of the Bible, we are told that “Jesus wept.” I have preached a sermon on the story of Lazarus three times now, and each time I also found myself weeping. I hope that the thinking that has led to this post will mean that I am no longer in any way ashamed of that. If my Lord and Savior can cry, then surely it is good enough for me?