A woman’s power is her beauty, and this is not merely her appearance, but her grace, her complexity, her thoughtfulness, her goodness, her motherhood, her compassion, her industry, her submission to her husband, her home, her intelligence, her creativity, her way of life. A godly woman is armed to the hilt with these weapons. This is her power, her strength. When she is adorned with this gentleness, this glory, she is a mighty force to be reckoned with. God sees her quiet heart before Him and He burns with an exceedingly joyful glory, and by His grace she is as terrible as an army with banners. She will move mountains. In this way, a Christian woman embodies the gospel, proclaims Jesus, and walks in the power and glory of the Spirit.
But what about a man’s glory? What is his power?
A man’s power is his sacrifice. When God created the first woman, He tore a rib from Adam’s side and closed it back up. Adam became a source of goodness and glory through pain and suffering, through sacrifice.
Too many men think that their power and glory is some kind of raw authority or brute force. And then they wonder why their families implode and their children run for cover and there’s a trail of broken lives and broken hearts behind them. They march off into the distance and eventually turn around to find no one actually following them. But God made men for glory, and their glory is also a force to be reckoned with. Their glory is the glory of suffering and death. But this seems backward, upside down. If you sacrifice, if you suffer, if you give yourself away, it seems like that will not be glory or power at all. It looks like weakness and shame and dishonor. How can a man have authority or influence if he lays it down? Well, that’s a good question. There are actually two kinds of authority and influence. The fleshly kind is domineering, oppressive, and bossy. That kind has to die. You must lay that sort of authority down. Because ultimately it isn’t really authority or influence. It’s a false glory, a dollar store knock off.
But in the heart of every man, there’s an instinct to guard, to protect, to take responsibility. And a man may not, must not, lay down his responsibility. He must always accept his God-given responsibility. He must always assume his duty. He may not lay that down. That would be evasion and cowardice. But in accepting responsibility, he must lay himself down. And this means that he must lay down all his pride, all his pretensions, all of his demands for respect, all of his insecure whining, and all grasping for greatness and glory. He must lose his reputation for the sake of his duty. He must lose his pride for the sake of his calling. He must lose his pretensions of authority for the sake of actually leading.
Another way to put all of this is that there is no true authority except for resurrection authority. This is the only other kind of authority there is. Jesus was given the name that is above every name upon His resurrection. His authority is resurrection authority. Men in their flesh want resurrection authority without any sacrifice, without any pain, without any death. But this is logically impossible. There is no such thing as resurrection authority without a corresponding grave. Men want to demand respect, obedience, influence, glory without any of the blood. But this is to demand the crown without a cross. This is to pretend that Jesus could have saved the world in some other way than by His pierced side and precious blood.
It’s sometimes said that churches and communities that preach and seek to live out what the Bible says about biblical masculinity and leadership, that they tend to attract these fleshly men that want to coerce and manipulate the people around them. So maybe we ought to lay off all the masculinity talk, is the suggestion. Maybe less about the biblical roles of husbands and wives, and more about other things. But there are two things we need to say to this. First off, they’re right. Real men attract false men as surely as real people attract zombies, like moths to light. Resurrected men attract posers and fakers. That much is true, but that isn’t a defect. There’s nothing to be done but to kill the zombies, to preach the fakers into the grave and pray the Spirit raises them up into real men. But second, and back to the suggestion that we lay off the biblical masculinity talk, the alternative is to capitulate. The alternative is to let the zombies run the place. The fact that we have communities where scandals erupt, where abuse and oppression are exposed, where real men stand up to false men is not a sign of failure. It’s exactly the reverse. It’s a sign of resurrection. It’s a sign of life and health and vigor. Nothing moves in a graveyard. Corpses have no struggles. Cemeteries have no controversies. But when God breathes His life into men, they stand up and begin to unsettle the walking dead.
And not only that, it is by that very unsettling, that struggle, that the walking dead die and rise again. Because by the mystery of the cross, when a man lays himself down in submission to God, in complete trust in God, while accepting his God-given responsibility, he is finally and truly beginning to embrace his true glory. In that act of sacrifice and death, God raises him up to true authority and power. This is not the authority of Mr. Bossman. This is not the authority of coercion or manipulation. It’s the authority of grace. It’s the power of the Spirit. But you can’t get that kind of authority apart from resurrection. And you can’t get that resurrection power without honest, humble faith in God that lets Him lower you into the ground and rip out one of your ribs. Until you’re really willing to do that, until you’re really willing to let go, to lose it all, you aren’t really leading.
But when you do, you begin to catch a glimpse of something far greater than you ever imagined, a power and authority that works in you for your good and for the good of others. It’s the authority of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit and in the end you’re not really quite sure why it works. In fact, it really shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s the power of Christ in you. It’s the power of the resurrection. Mountains smoke and tremble, seas part, the guilty are forgiven, the slaves are set free, and you look around your dinner table and see treasures and gifts piled high that you didn’t earn, that you don’t deserve. And suddenly you laugh and realize you’ve just caught a tiny, flickering glimmer of what it might be like to be a real man, a real man. And it socks you in the gut, and it’s all you can do to bite your lip and pray for that glory, to ask for more of that glory, to long to meet that glory face to face.