A bridge over troubled water Romans 12:1-2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy. To offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test, and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
“brothers.” Living in a patriarchal world, it is no surprise that Paul appeals first to men. Paul’s desire is to set a spark for the men of the community to step up and be a man for Jesus. The world is no different today. To be a man today is to be strong, in control, able to deal with crisis, and for some, aggressive and controlling. There is little wonder that ISIS appeals to men who answer God’s call upon them for transformation by believing a lie, conforming to the thought that buying, selling, raping, and abusing women and beheading the children of their enemy (Jesus) will satisfy the longing for transformation within them. They buy the lie that they can control destiny through force and violence. Their lives can go nowhere but further pain and violence. They will create violence and subsequently suffer from it.
To hear someone like Jesus say that transformation that is genuine will help you become a servant, a peacemaker, a gentle and quiet soul, would be to listen to the absurd. Men in our world are not like the Man Jesus seeks to create. To the world (outside of western culture), Jesus men are weak and will be wiped off the planet by stronger men of greater urgency.
In western culture, we have created this concept of manhood that commends selfishness. The media not only endorses this but promotes it. While women are in control and balance all of life with ease, men are busy trying to sneak out the back door to play golf or sitting in front of the tv watching the game and eating pizza. Doug and Raymond are buffoons, always in trouble with their wives for the next selfish thing they did. God forbid they ever be left in charge of anything because it will certainly blow up. And we all laugh because it is funny.
But we do not laugh when the men of our culture walk away from marriage or children or responsibilities. And it is not just the men. Stereotypes of women in our culture radicalize independence and cougar behavior. Real housewives are just insane, and we laugh because it exaggerates the funny, but we are not laughing at the reality that we are a broken society. The Middle East and East are not laughing at us, they want to kill us. What they really want to kill is our understanding of what it means to be civilized. They respond with radical transformation that is the OPPOSITE of the west because they see what we have become as abhorrent. And we see them as pure evil.
So, can men be transformed into the image of God and not be buffoons or laughable foils to women? Can we be transformed and not rabidly seek control or power or wealth? God says not only that we can but that we must. There is no reason to assume that becoming a gentle and quiet soul means we simply become silent or have no backbone. Being a peacemaker does not mean we will not go to war. And becoming like Jesus means we enlist in the army, we become warriors. Our urgency is to transform the whole world into Jesus people.