I want to mention my thought on the use of gender terminology in the Bible. First, gender designation is not relevant. Young “men” are also young "women". “Fathers” are also “mothers”. God, while normally referred to as Father, is also Mother. In that regard there could be no human or animal mothers, with all the characteristics normally ascribed to mothers, unless those characteristics came from God and were in fact part of the expression of His Person. Having said that, however, I will use the Biblical terminology of “Man” and “Father”. It should be understood that I also mean “Woman” and “Mother”.
: “… I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one…. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” [I John 2.12-14]
We all leave the “Child” stage and move into “Young Man”. Here the emphasis is strength, knowledge of the written word, and power to overcome evil. Young Man is a necessary stage, but it is just that – a “stage”, not a place to remain. In this stage we all make the designed mistake and error of seeing oneself as a participant in a self-improvement program called Christianity. God designed this stage of understanding in preparation for Fatherhood.
Now, as a Young Man you will come to the end of your rope again. The Young Man will attempt to perfect his Christianity – not knowing it is already perfect. The Young Man will work very hard at Christianity and may spend many years doing just that. So, what is the “plan”? The Young Man approaches Christianity as a religion – a self-improvement religion. He busies himself memorizing scripture, which is a good thing really, fighting the devil and being proud of how strong he thinks he is. The Young Man will pray “God fill this place with your Spirit” – or – “God give me the strength, or wisdom or faith or whatever – God give me something so I can do [whatever]”.
“[Y]e are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” [I John 2.12-14] I don’t necessarily think that God sees the Young Man as such, only that the Young Man sees himself in this manner.
This is a necessary stage and God allows the Young Man to go on his merry way with his misconception that his strength comes from within himself and that he can develop more by, perhaps, reading and memorizing more scripture and prayer and commitment and morality and whatever else he thinks will make him a better Christian. The Young Man will, eventually fall flat on his face and say “it’s not working”. Actually, there is no guarantee that he will. But hopefully he will. The reason I say “hopefully” is that there are some that never do, but go on through life seeing God as an external being and their life-long purpose to improve their Christianity. But, thankfully for many, the Young Man will be frustrated with his inability to move forward, as he thinks he should, into Christian maturity. He is now ripe for the next step – Fatherhood.
In error, based on what I knew about life at that time, I approached Christianity the same way that I approached football. I wanted to go from being a beginner, a novice Christian, to being a great Christian. So I did everything I thought I should do, and believe me, there were many well-intentioned people, willing to pile on all the requirements.
I got a bible. I got another bible. I got a better bible. I got a concordance. I joined a church. I joined another church. I joined a better church. I read the bible. I listened to sermons. I took notes. I went to bible studies. I taught bible studies. I memorized scripture. I witnessed and actually won people to Christ.
The great misconception of Christianity is that it is about "me”. However, the great truth of Christianity is that “me" is done - dead. But, “me" is alive. Actually, “it is Christ that lives in me”. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” [Gal. 2.20] “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” [Col. 3.3]