Saturday, 28 November 2015 11:12
Accountability and Authority in Christ
“Buck up, be a man, and live up to your responsibilities!” These words, or others like them, have been repeated in every generation to countless men. For men to live up to their responsibilities as men is necessary. The recent history of the United States has seen a general abdication of responsibility by men in general, and husbands in particular. In very recent years, organizations such as Promise Keepers have sprung up, calling men back to their place of primary accountability in the home and society. This is a noble cause in every generation. When this call goes out, however, we must understand what sort of accountability men are being called to and the proper motivation for living it out.
Our previous discussion has alluded to the primary accountability of the male in the relationship. The Bible clearly teaches this primary accountability. The ground is cursed on account of Adam (Genesis 3:17-19). Adam is named as the cause of original sin coming to all (Romans 5:12-21). Romans 5 shows how Christ overcame sin for all and gave us his righteousness, thus taking ultimate accountability. Ephesians 5:25 defines the love of Christ for His bride in the words, “gave Himself for her.” What Adam (and all other males) was unable to do, Jesus has done for all. He took the sins of His bride, consisting of all men and women, carried them up Calvary, and paid the price for them by His suffering and death on the cross. In this, He fulfilled what it is to be male.
In the last 25 years or so, a movement has risen within Christianity to remove all references to God as male from the Bible in favor of gender-neutral terms. There have even been sporadic attempts to depict Jesus as a woman so as to balance the supposed male dominance of the Christian faith. All such attempts deny the clear teaching of Scripture regarding male accountability. Because men were created to reflect God in their relationships, they bear the primary responsibility. Jesus could not have been a woman. He had to be a man to bear the accountability that scripture clearly placed on the men, an accountability that still exists today. Because God created us (Genesis 1) and made us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), men reflect Him by taking the accountability for the welfare of the family and society as God in Christ has taken it for us.
The man may be panicked about now. Jesus was perfect and completely loved us. How can we sinners reflect Him in taking accountability for our wives? This is a good question. We must acknowledge that we are sinners and are totally incapable of being just like Him. Nor do we want to make Jesus simply some kind of standard to judge men by. Rather, we acknowledge that men are still primarily accountable for what happens in their homes, encouraging them to use Jesus as the example and motivation for how that takes place.
What is this accountability and how does it work? I will use myself as an example. I am a pastor. God has given me the privilege of the office of the ministry. I perform that office in His stead and for the welfare of my congregation. I am responsible for preaching and teaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, and so forth. The congregations I have served have all had Sunday Schools with many Sunday School teachers over the years, most of whom have been women. They have all taught God’s Word to the children. What does it mean that I have the primary accountability in the congregation? It means that no matter who is teaching in my congregation, I am responsible to God for what they teach.
Likewise, I am the head of my house. Many people have taught my children their school subjects, Sunday School lessons, and so forth. My wife has been a constant teaching influence in our children’s lives. The point of primary accountability is that I am responsible for what they are taught.
How do I view this accountability? Is it a yoke around my neck that I must buck up and bear? Jesus did not come to further burden us, but to free us. I have been set free by Christ to be primarily accountable to God for my marriage and family. I am to use Christ as my example and motivation for living this privilege. He is not to be the impossible standard by which I measure my life. He is the One who liberates and empowers me to love my wife as He has the church.
This gets us to our previous discussion of authority as service. Jesus had all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He taught His disciples that He “ . . .did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) His exercise of authority was to carry our sins up Calvary and serve us unto death (Philippians 2:5-8).
This is the model and motivation for husbands. Since authority is service we demonstrate our headship by the loving service we show our wives. Fixing the sink demonstrates your loving understanding that she needs to use it. Taking out the garbage eases her burden of having to work around it. Helping with the kids relieves her of the pressure of having to do too many things at once. These can be jobs you are nagged into doing or acts of love. This is true leadership; to lead by loving as Christ has first loved us.
A major factor in most men’s lives is to feel a sense of fulfillment in life. It is sought in many aspects of life: sexual, family, occupation, etc. Many men make it their goal to achieve this fulfillment. The aim of their actions is this satisfaction.
The problem is that the harder one tries to get such satisfaction, the more elusive it seems to be. The reason it is so elusive is that seeking it is basically self-centered while finding it is sacrificial. True male fulfillment is found in the exercise of authority by self-sacrificial service in love as Christ has loved the church. When you see all things as an opportunity and privilege to show Christ by loving as He has loved, all these will come to pass.
Men are fulfilled in their jobs when they see those jobs as the means of loving wife and family, providing for them as God has provided for us. Men are fulfilled in their families when they serve in love, have their wives receive that love, and see them respond by loving in return. Men find sexual fulfillment when they seek to satisfy the needs of their wives, making intercourse a joyous expression of love. Those who try to be fulfilled never will be. Those who exercise their authority by emptying themselves in love will experience a purpose and fulfillment beyond their wildest dreams.
The key to this is sacrificial love. Christ filled us with His love. We are complete because of His love for us. We walk by faith, which expresses His love in us. The genuine exercise of authority is to show the love of Christ in self-sacrificial service to your wife.
So often authority is seen as domination. The reason for this is that too often the exercise of authority in the home is domination. Our sinful nature calls us to authority that takes advantage of power instead of serving in love. Too often, the Law is invoked to point out that God put the husband in charge, so the wife better shape up and do what he says. If Christ were to display this attitude toward us, we would be hopelessly lost in our sins.
But Christ has shown His love for us in His self-sacrificial love. He has built our house on forgiveness, love and grace. Husbands are called in the grace of Christ to reflect this Gospel reality by the love they show their wives. As was mentioned earlier, God created us to love us. As men reflect Him to their wives, they should see their wives as the object of their undying love. She is not someone to satisfy needs, but one to love and cherish. By serving her and satisfying her needs, husbands truly lead and exercise authority that will be a blessing and an example to the whole family as Christ has been.
CURRENT ISSUES: June 2015
Here in the State of Indiana we have been embroiled in a fight about the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Much has been written about it, as well as much on TV. Not much has been accurate.
Christians do not want laws enacted so that we can discriminate against, and show hatred for, anyone. To suggest that anyone who was for this act is hateful and wants to discriminate against others is the same as claiming that those who opposed this law are opposed to religious freedom and haters of religious people. Neither assumption has any basis in fact.
Many Christians, or their ancestors, came to America because it was a place where they would be able to worship God freely, without government intervention or interference. People of other faiths have come to America for the same reason, since our Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, not any particular religion.
Our first consideration is the preservation of our First Amendment rights, especially since those rights have come under fire in recent years. There are those who accuse us of simply wanting to discriminate against homosexuals. This is simply not true. We do consider homosexual behavior sinful. But if we wanted to promote discrimination against sinners, we would be inviting discrimination since we sin too. We simply wish to preserve the rights we are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. We invite you to read the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights if you have not done so. There will be discussion of marriage and sexuality on this website as time goes along, but we always welcome questions and will answer as promptly as possible.
May God bless you in the exercise of your citizenship. May God also bless our country, president, congress, governors, legislatures, and all our citizens.