“In a world that didn’t accept the word of a woman as a valid witness, Jesus chose women as witnesses for his resurrection. In a world that gave husbands power over the very lives of their wives, Paul told husbands to do the opposite—to give up their lives for their wives. In a world that saw women as biologically deformed men, monstrous even, Paul declared that men were just like women in Christ.”― Beth Allison Barr
The more I read and study God’s Word, the more I am fascinated by the way in which it challenges commonly held beliefs in culture both in the context in which it was written and in modern culture today.
In our Sunday morning sermon series, No Matter What, we are looking at women in the Bible and how they demonstrated remarkable faith in the face of insurmountable odds. The Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture saw women as inferior beings. They were property. They were a commodity used to keep homes in order and to produce children. Their place in the social strata was that just above slaves but far below that of their male counterparts. Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher said this of women (it is sums up the patriarchal culture of his time): "The relation of male to female is by nature a relation of superior to inferior and ruler to ruled."
Jesus opened a new door for women. He welcomed them to sit at his feet and learn. He welcomed them as followers. Jesus took the time to stop, listen, heal, and elevate women as equal partners in faith and co-heirs to God’s promise of salvation. I’ve been shocked when it was pointed out to me in Scripture that it was a woman who was first at the manger. It was a woman who was witness to Jesus’s first miracle. It was women who were first at the cross (except for John). And it was women who were the first witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. In fact, women were the first heralds of the Gospel message declaring Jesus to be alive! Paul, in his practice, picks up where Jesus left off. Lydia is a strong leader in the church which met in her home in Philippi after Paul evangelized her. His list of women as partners in ministry in Romans 16 is just as long as the list of men. Paul identifies Priscilla (and her husband Aquila) as lead teachers and partners in the faith. Paul entrusts his doctrinally heavy letter to the Roman churches to Phoebe.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. -Romans 16:1-2
Because of Jesus’s and Paul’s view of women (and therefore the Church’s view) women flocked to the Church in the first two centuries AD. They were leading the charge in the caring of the poor and meeting other community needs. The church exploded in the Roman world because women were willing to step into the gap and lead the charge for the cause of Christ.
We should vigorously be serving God and the cause of Jesus Christ in word and action. God’s Word is living and active. Every follower of Jesus (women and men, young and old) has been invited to step into the work of calling others to full life in Jesus. No matter who you are or how long you’ve known Jesus, God is inviting you and me into his work. What is the Holy Spirit laying on your heart to do? Have you asked him? Will you ask Him regularly? There is much more that God wants to do in you and through you than you know or imagine. We must do the hard work of identifying what is holding us back from obediently saying, “Yes, Lord. No matter what.”
May we each, with boldness, declare to those around us as Mary Magdalene did to the disciples upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, “I have seen the Lord!” -John 20:18
Together, we move.
White Oak Christian Church