I’m beginning a new series called The Jesus Way of Masculinity. While fully God, Jesus was also fully human. His humanness was incarnated in the masculine. Understanding who Jesus was as a man provides insight into how men can live out and model masculine characteristics as created by God.
The place where we begin, though, is not with Jesus. We’ll begin with Adam. The Genesis narrative describes “first things.” These first actions of God detail his creative design from chaos to order. Included in God’s creative design are people, specifically, male and female. Both are created as equal image bearers of God. Both sexes speak something about God’s nature. And. Both sexes reveal something about their responsibilities in creation.
The male – Adam had a defined responsibility to work alongside God in creation. Prior to fulfilling his responsibilities, it’s important to see that Adam’s entire life was given to him as a gift from God. Genesis 2:7 (NIV) reads, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” This life-giving breath of God communicates that Adam’s entire life was predicated on the life given to him by the Creator. This life-giving breath suggests Adam’s inheritance as a son of God and led to his responsibilities in creation. Genesis chapter 2 highlights Adam’s role:
- His responsibilities occur in a defined place – the Garden
- He was to work and care for the Garden
- He was responsible for his obedience to God’s commands
- He named the animals
- He recognized Eve as part of himself
- He committed himself to her
We see Adam as being clearly created by God for a purpose. He was to manage God’s place on the earth, rule over creation (naming of animals), and nurture his relationships. All of this was intended to honor God in the way that Adam (and Eve) were the image bearers of God in the Garden and on Earth.
Very shortly, though, we discover that the original order was destroyed by original sin. Adam failed to fulfill his responsibility to nurture his wife and nurture his dominion over the earth instead choosing to rebel against God’s design. The rest of the story involves banishment and the beginning of God’s redemptive story climaxing in the incarnation of Jesus.
In Romans 5:12-21, the Apostle Paul contrasts the roles of Adam and Jesus. Adam failed to fulfill his image-bearing role which led to the “death” of all of creation. Jesus, and his “one righteous act” (5:18) bring justification. In other words, Jesus’ obedience had the potential to bring life back to all of creation. In short, I would suggest that Jesus, as the image-bearer of God, fulfilled the things at which Adam failed.
In general, we can apply this to the masculine role – you are an image bearer of God. Certainly, this applies to women as well. Genesis 1 seems to be clear on this reality. But men cannot shirk this responsibility. The absence of men as image bearers of God in creation is a troubling reality in the 21st century. Many men flee any conversation about God or Christianity. Maybe this has occurred because of the deep feminization of the church and Christianity, but it’s not an excuse.
As an image bearer, men are called to take up the responsibility for revealing the presence of God in every facet of society and take back the ground lost to the enemy. This isn’t militant, nor is it Dominion Theology. It is the created nature of men, who, redeemed by Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the intended purpose of the masculine.
So, an initial aspect of fulfilling the Jesus Way of Masculinity begins with a Christian man owning his call as an image-bearer of God and exerting influence over the direction of creation for the glory of God and the coming of the Kingdom.