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Manhood & Theology | The Cross

November 7, 2014

By John Coakley, Jr.

As men, we all wear a variety of hats and titles in life. Many of us are husbands and fathers, church members and church leaders, and various other titles that we hold within our respective lives. Regardless of your title or position, what must be understood, is that the way we perform in our title and position is defined by the cross.

The cross, by means of the Holy Spirit, presses in, convicts our heart, and empowers us in every regard for living as Christian men. It is in the cross that we find our purpose and our reason, our motivation and our encouragement, for living our lives to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). It is in the cross that we see the supreme example of humility in the Lord Jesus Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

1. The Cross defines what it means to serve your bride.

As husbands, we are called to serve our brides. We look at the cross and see the sacrifice that our Suffering Servant, the Lord Jesus, made for His church (Eph 5:25). His example reminds us to examine how much and how well we are loving our brides in light of how much and how well Christ loved the church. We are also reminded to take a hard look at how we are living in community with our brides, and question how well we are loving her (Matt 22.39). As believing husbands, we are not only conscious of the effects that the cross has had on sin, and ultimately us, but we are also conscious of the implications that Christ’s death brings in how we serve our bride.

Paul says that the purpose of loving our brides as Christ loved the church is so that we “might sanctify her” (Eph 5:26). This doesn’t mean we are the ones who are setting her apart and presenting her to be “holy and without blemish,” rather that our bride is set apart and presented as such because of what God has accomplished through Jesus’ death on the cross. As we are now indwelt with the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus works through us, by the Spirit, to love her with a sacrificial love that can only be felt by her, and given by us, because of the greatest act of sacrificial love that took place over two-thousand years ago.

That example of love is what we, as men, are called to follow in loving our wives—a love that encourages us to serve her unlike we have ever or could ever serve another person through our own effort. It is only when Christ’s love flourishes in us, that we can be in a position to serve our brides. And only when our love for our wife flourishes , that we can serve our children as called to by the cross.

2. The cross defines what it means to serve your children.

As believers, we know that the greatest presentation of what a father is and should be is found in the Trinity. God, as the Father, has set an awesome example of what it means to be a father who is keenly aware of and sincerely loves His child. In an effort to not take anything from that precedent, I submit that another example of what a great father does for his child can be found in the Cross of Christ. For, it is on the cross that we see the culmination of a life of servitude put on full display.

As fathers, God has instructed us to bring our children “up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Bringing them up as God directs involves us discipling—guiding them to an understanding of God, who He is, was, and will forever be (Gen 1:1, Psa 48:14), and what it means to live a life pleasing to Him. We do this through serving our children, not in a subservient manner, but in the context of discipleship. Jesus’ exemplifies this kind of servant-leadership on the cross and empowers us to have that same mindset which is already ours in Him (Phil 2:1-10).

The cross reminds us that, as the spiritual leader of the home (1 Tim 3:4), we are to give our lives for our family to know the goodness of Jesus and what he accomplished. As Jesus served His disciples through His teachings and example, we are also called to serve those we disciple, in this case our children, through our teaching and example. Serving them well, as we should our wives, allows us to properly and faithfully serve the church.

3. The cross defines what it means to serve your church.

Every believer, in some capacity, is called to serve the church. Every believer has unique gifts and talents with which only they can edify the church. The calling to shepherd God’s people in the church as a leader (i.e., as an elder/pastor, minister, etc) might not be a role to which we feel God leading us toward. However, a lack of calling to serve the church as a leader does not negate our calling to serve the church as a member. Jesus’ cross-work transforms people for all eternity. Although the influence of our sacrificial service won’t be as significant to as many people, it will be significant to the people of the church to which you are serving and it is pleasing to our Father as we love Him through loving others.

So, as we worship the Lord with gladness (Psa 100:2), we should serve His people with the same heart. We must invest in the lives of those with whom we worship. We are all part of the body of believers and we are called to serve as a specific part of the body (1 Cor 12). As we serve, whether at the front door greeting as people enter, or in the backyard cutting grass so children can play, let’s serve sacrificially and set the example for our family as Jesus set the example for His disciples—to serve, and not be served. The cross is what defines this for us.

I pray that we serve our brides well.
I pray that we serve our children well.
I pray that we serve our churches well.

All because we serve a God who does all things well (Mark 7:37).


BIO: John Coakley, Jr. (@JohnCoakleyJr) has been married to Danielle for 14 years. They have two daughters (fourteen and ten years old), and they live in Columbia, MD. John has served in the US Army for seventeen years and is currently a lay elder serving First Baptist Church of Brooklyn (Baltimore, MD). He blogs at Christ Focused Living.

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