Sixteen men gathered at Camp Metoche in Angelus Oaks to Stand As One. Their theme, taken, from Philippians 1:27, speaks about livinga life worthy of the gospel. Paul calls the Philippians to “stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one.” These men desired to understand what it means to be united as mature men of God. I had the privilege of speaking for the retreat.
We talked about four ways to Stand As One: 1) stand as one on the gospel, 2) stand as one on the gospel in God’s purpose, 3) stand as one on the gospel in authentic community, and 4) stand as one on the gospel in boldness.
The gospel message was the starting point for our time together. It makes it possible for people from different backgrounds to stand as one. The gospel does not remove our differences, but it is the platform for forgiven sinners to stand as one. The gospel allows humanity to reconcile with each other and God.
The gospel gives us purpose. I framed purpose with this question, “what does it mean to be a man of God?” I was convicted to talk about maturity. I focused on one aspect of maturity based on Titus 2:6, “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Self-control is the capacity for self-awareness and others awareness in order to start or stop a behavior. It takes intentional compassion, self-denial, and discipline to grow in self-control.
The gospel leads us into authentic community. The promise of forgiveness by grace invites us to love unconditionally. That means we allow God to love us unconditionally; we transparently and completely bring ourselves before God. We present our authentic selves to God. By the gospel we realize that we are authentically broken and by the gospel we are authentically redeemed and restored. We present our authentic selves to one another, entering into authentic community. The gospel invites us as we are, all our shame and guilt, into community to receive forgiveness and to be transformed according to the gospel.
The gospel empowers us to be bold. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We examined our timidity towards risk and commitment. The Holy Spirit allows us to face risk and make commitments.
I was blessed by the privilege to speak for these men. I saw a group of men draw near to God and come into authentic community with one another. I saw a group of men take a step toward maturity in their love for God, care for one another, and self-awareness. It was a weekend of fellowship, tears, prayer, praise, learning, and fun.
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