Jesus and my gender
There has always been a perceived disconnect between feminism and Christianity due to the Bible’s largely male perspective, and this has long troubled my spiritual sensibility. On the one hand, God makes all the difference in my life, having brought me through a deep, dark adolescence into a Life-giving relationship that transcends all the world can throw at me. But on the other, a tiny little portion of my willful mind has never been able to fully embrace the lack of feminine presence in the stories of God. Today, my eyes are opened: in a time when women were set apart and regarded as little more than property, Jesus embraced them as equals. And in allowing them to minister alongside His disciples, He set a precedent for acceptance of women in spiritual leadership and communion.
God used these words from Beth Moore to show me what I never understood before:
Appointing [Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women] as the first to share the news of Jesus’ resurrection was a definite “custom shaker.” Jesus knew the apostles wouldn’t believe them, but perhaps He felt that the pending discovery of their authenticity would breed a fresh respect. After all, at the first roll call in the post-ascension New Testament church, you’ll see women listed as part of the first New Testament cell group (see Acts 1:13-14).
For centuries the synagogue had kept men and women separate. Suddenly they would be working, praying, and worshiping shoulder-to-shoulder. Christ built His church on a foundation of mutual respect. Don’t misunderstand. Christ wasn’t prioritizing women over men. He simply took the ladder down to the basement where society had lowered women. And with His nail-scarred hands, He lifted them to a place of respect and credibility.
The last thing we women should want to do in the body of Christ is to take men’s places. But by all means, let’s take our places! We have also been called to be credible witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.
from Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only, Day 87
“The last thing we women should want to do in the body of Christ is to take men’s places.” Women always seem to struggle with the word “submission”, but in reading this passage I am suddenly aware that I have a place. Not that I’ve been put into place but that a place has been prepared for me. It is in authority over some and in deference to others, but that is my place, designed for me by my God. These are words of FREEDOM for me! These words take such pressure off my spirit and my mind. I am relieved to know that I don’t have to fight for anything, that I don’t have to scratch or claw my way up to anything. What I do have to do is listen and follow the LORD, and He will make my path straight. I will be content as I journey to the place He designed for my life.
In this epiphany I also realize my responsibilty. Back in college, during my darkest days, I remember a similar revelation regarding the right to vote. What had been unimportant to me suddenly came to be the greatest responsibility to my gender. The struggles of women to gain the right to vote, the brutality they experienced in their fight, echoed within my heart and emblazoned in me the responsibility I had to never let their sacrifice be in vain. Though the candidates may not be appealing, I never want to diminish the women who fought so bravely and so tirelessly to give me the privilege of entering the polling place.
Similarly, Jesus sacrificed Himself to ensure that I, as a woman, have the freedom to worship and serve shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers. That ultimate Sacrifice can never be in vain. I must follow the LORD; I must move to the place He has prepared. And I must take my position gladly, wherever that position places me in the order of things, and I should always remember that it is a privilege to serve my God. He has designed my life creatively, with so much imagination that I am constantly surprised and delighted. Now, when I read through the ancient stories of God’s people and see the names of women here and there, my heart soars with delight that God was using us to change His world. Just seeing the words “and all the women who were there” reminds me how precious we are to the Creator, how important is our role in this life, and how change has been effected throughout all time by Jesus’ willingness to disciple those whom society deemed unimportant.