September 27, 2023
Men, this weekly (sometimes bi-monthly) email is designed to encourage, challenge, and equip you in your journey to become more like Jesus. I write as the Lord brings different things to mind. Hopefully, the content of these emails will speak to your masculine heart and sharpen you as a Christ follower in all the roles you play.
Over the summer, I read “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield. It’s the story of the feared and admired Spartan soldiers who fought the invading Persian army at Thermopylae. It’s a great work of historical fiction. It’s the second time I’ve read it.
The story is told through the eyes of Xeo, an exile whose parents were murdered and whose village was destroyed when he was a child. Eventually, he finds work serving the Spartan soldiers. But before that, as a homeless youth, he lived a very meager existence in the forest with his family’s slave, Bruxieus, and his cousin.
The following exchange is between Bruxieus and Xeo when they lived in the forest near their destroyed village.
This was the first and only time I saw Bruxieus truly, physically angry. He seized me by the shoulders and shook me violently, commanding me to face him.
“Listen to me, boy. Only gods and heroes can be brave in isolation. A man may call upon courage only one way: in the ranks with his brothers-in-arms, the line of his tribe, and his city. Most pitiful of all states under heaven is that of a man alone, bereft of the gods of his home and his polis (his Greek city-state). A man without a city is not a man. He is a shadow, a shell, a joke, and a mockery. That is what you have become now, my poor Xeo. No one may expect valor from one cast out alone, cut off from the gods of his home.”
I read this and thought of you, the men of River West Church.
A man without a city is not a man. He is a shadow, a shell, a joke, and a mockery.
In our context, I believe that a man without his brothers in Christ is merely a shadow of a man. He’s not whole. He needs the blessing and encouragement that comes from having community with other men.
Men, simply put, we are better together. We all know this on some level, but even so, I still feel the pull towards isolation sometimes. I want to hide. I want to retreat. When I’m hurting, I become withdrawn.
Maybe you do, too.
But we find love, support, blessing, and wholeness when we find fellowship in a healthy community of God-fearing men.
We are creating this kind of community at River West. Some of you know this because you’ve lived it! Some of you live in the shadows because it feels safer to be unknown, but this is a mistake. You are missing out on the Lord’s blessing.
There are numerous ways to connect with other men at River West. For information about upcoming events, click RW MEN.
And if you aren’t involved already, I strongly encourage you to join a small group Bible study. We have just launched a study in the Gospel of John. You’ll find more information and can register HERE.
Men, we are better together.
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