Eric Metaxas is one of my favourite authors. Everything from his incredible biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to the collection of talks from the "Socrates in the City" lectures he hosts in New York, to his seminal work writing the scripts for VeggieTales (take a look here if you've never heard of VeggieTales).
Well he's written a new book looking at the lives of seven men and what it was that made them great. I've just finished it and I can't recommend it highly enough.
We live in an age when there seems to be great confusion over what it means to be a man. On the one side we have the macho, alpha male Vinnie Jones style hard man who never displays any emotion. On the other side is metro sexual man in touch with his feminine side who is "sweet" but of no practical use to anyone. There seems to be little in between, men who are both strong and kind, decisive and gentle, fearless but with a heart for the weak and downtrodden.
This confusion seems to affect not just the world but the church, and even our view of who Jesus is. Consider this recent quote from Mark Driscoll "Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up." Interesting :)
For me this book comes like a breath of fresh air into the middle of that debate, examining the lives of 7 men who were neither prize fighters or wimps, but each of whom displays incredible strength and manhood in very different ways. Some of the men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Chuck Colson and William Wilberforce I already knew quite a bit about but was inspired again by their courage, intellect, faith and passion for people less fortunate than themselves. Others such as Eric Liddell (of "Chariots of Fire" fame), Pope John Paul II and George Washington I knew something about but got to understand at a whole new level. I'd never heard of Jackie Robinson before, but his battle to break the "colour code" in American baseball, the abuse he and his family endured and the spirit in which he overcame it, left me deeply moved.
Whether you're a man or a woman I encourage you to read this book. Buy lots of copies for Christmas presents. Give it to people both with faith in Jesus and those exploring what that might look like. And let's believe for a generation of men who will model what it truly means to be Christ like to our world.