When God first created Adam in the Garden of Eden, their relationship was one of perfect communion. But there was one thing kept from him among all the things given to him. The warning from God to stay away from one particular tree was the last command Adam received before God put him to sleep, and created Eve from his rib. Once Eve had become the last, best thing Adam received the creation was complete, and for awhile all was good in the Garden.
Then along came an invader – a snake in the grass full of lies and deception, and he took what was once very good and brought it all down through one short conversation. It was obvious as they spoke Eve and Adam had discussed that last command from God, for when the serpent was tempting her to eat from that tree she repeated God’s command to leave it alone. Nevertheless, she ate and then gave to her husband who was “with her” and he ate. They fell from communion with God and the die was cast that would forever curse their descendants, but in different ways.
After confronting their transgressions the Lord revealed to them their curses (Gen. 3). Eve’s was found in these words, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The Hebrew word for curse here is not a passive or righteous desire. It is used only one other time in the OT, when God is warning Cain about his intention to do his brother Abel harm: “Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you.” It indicates a selfish desire to run after with the intent of a hostile takeover. It is to want to take that which is not yours – to usurp the given order of things by running past your place God-given place. This is precisely what Eve did when she usurped Adam’s authority by engaging the serpent, and then leading him into eating the fruit. So woman would forever subservient to man, yet would forever crave his God-given position.
Adam’s sin was purely and simply apathy and abandonment of his post, and so God correctly cursed the lazy man by informing him everything he would do from then on would come at the cost of great effort. What do you do with a lazy man, but to make him work? Adam had been given the command to cultivate and protect all creation, which included Eve, yet he had passively stepped back and allowed her to rule for that cursed moment. But that did not change the fact man was to be the head of the woman. Paul later said of this, “But I want you to understand…the man is the head of a woman…He is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor. 11). Whether he wants to or not, Adam will lead because it’s God’s mandate.
Men can lead their Eves one of two ways: either into their strength or their curse, but they will lead. If men embrace their God-given strengths and lead in a godly way they will lead their Eves in to their blessing of being “Adam’s glory” and faithful companions. If, however, men fall to their curse they automatically draw their Eves into theirs! When Adam succumbs to apathy and abandons his position as head of his family, his fellowship, and his world as he did in the Garden, the result is always the same. Eve is drawn automatically by the vacuum Adam’s lack of leadership creates in to her curse of usurping his authority. In either case Adams lead and Eves follow. “The fall” of relationships and kingdoms always, and in every situation, ensues when Adams step back.
Satan has been playing on the sons of Adam’s apathy ever since. He has now gathered a “perfect storm” in America to play perfectly to his curse consisting of three elements putting men to sleep in a comfortable blanket of physical wealth and ease,and a false sense of spiritual security. These three forces are a culture mirroring the church of Laodicea of Revelation 3, an event-driven religious structure of teachers and students that has replaced Jesus’ model of shepherds and sheep, and a religious doctrine the segregates grace from command. What do we mean by this?
- Culture of Laodicea: This church found in Revelations 3 was characterized by wealth, and the corresponding illusion of well being it causes. While money and power do indeed bring a sense of security to the flesh, being immersed in them over extended periods of time has always spelled danger for the spiritual man. This led the Laodiceans in to self-deception, as it becomes evident Jesus’ estimate of their spiritual condition was far removed from their own. The love of money is perhaps the largest single contributor to the deception and malaise of the sons of Adam here in America today.
- The event-driven structure of what Michael calls “Classroom Christianity:” By reviving the temple worship system Jesus encountered in Israel, modern Christendom has strayed from the model Jesus established for making disciples [shepherds and sheep], and replaced it with the unbiblical system of teachers and students. Beginning in our seminaries, this model manifests itself in a system that revolves around buildings and events, rather than people and lifestyle. We “go to” church. We “go to” Bible studies and small groups. We even “go to” do ministry. What does that imply, other than we are “coming back” when we are done? We build our temples, as the Jews did, stand at their doors and proclaim, “If you want to know Jesus, come to us!” Our measure of evangelical prowess is known by the size of our temples, and everyone wants to be a part of the newest mega-church in town. The church has become something we go to rather than something we are, allowing the sons of Adam to compartmentalize their religious duty and their worldly living. It has allowed them to check out of actually following Jesus when they still think they are. In other words, Laodicea.
- The doctrine of the idol of grace: Jesus came full of grace and truth, proclaiming both forgiveness and command, and bringing both freedom and responsibility. He is Lamb and Lion, Savior and Judge, and is both the forgiver and commander of men’s souls. What we have done by focusing on evangelism without discipleship, and proclaiming salvation apart from discipline is to effectively strip the grace of God from the command of God. Men are bombarded by messages reassuring them of eternal security without cost, a cross without commitment, and a god who demands nothing of them other than to let him smother them in love. While commands of God are preached, they are inevitably followed up by reassurances grace covers all. Men compartmentalize that, and then go out once more to live their sinful, worldly lives until they return next week for more. What they don’t realize is while this is all very convenient, it is keeping them from the great adventure of following Jesus in this world which only comes through obedience to His commands. It is the grace of Christ that introduces us to eternal life, and that has little to do with us. However, it is following the command of Christ that gives us life in the here and now, and that has very much to do with us. A man without a task to take on containing both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, becomes a bored man. Bored men quickly lose interest, as so many polls tell us is now the case in modern Christendom. As wealth is physically, so this idol of grace is spiritually the largest single contributor to the malaise of the sons of Adam in America today.
This is why we are so passionate about men. It’s about men reawakening and stepping up, instead of sleeping and stepping back. It’s about men leading their families, their fellowships, and their communities away from the curse and back in to blessing again. This is why we cry out to men, “Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” Until men awaken and arise to their God-given position once more, nothing much will change. We must gently wrestle the position of leader back from our Eves by simply becoming passionate, purposed men of God again [something not easily done once authority has been given away]. The good news is we see God calling men all across America right now. He’s pruning them of their love of money, bringing down their worldly pillars of false security, and calling them back to a passionate relationship with Him that will translate in to godly men re-assuming their positions, and the change we seek. Though this seems impossible given how far we have fallen, “with God nothing is impossible!” God established he proper order, and God can re-establish it!