I???m grateful for Amy???s sermon this past Sunday. She tackled a tough topic with a lot of insight and grace.
I thought it would be helpful to follow up her sermon with a few thoughts on the broader issue of men and women in scripture and our interpretive approaches.
Amy mentioned that interpreters generally adopt either a fairly literal view of Ephesians 5 and create a kind of hierarchy with men and women, while others adopt a more culturally attuned perspective that tries to uncover the perspective of the original audience and the way Paul???s message would have been received.
I think Amy did a great job in explaining the low view of women in ancient culture, and the ways that Paul???s message would have been challenging, if not mind-blowing. This is a helpful principle to observe in scripture. While God may challenge the norms of one culture in a biblical story, scripture does not always give us a line of passages that say the exact same thing.
We compare the teachings of one passage with those found in another and do our best to determine God???s trajectory for revelation.
For example, when the Pharisees questioned Jesus on divorce, they had scripture to back up their view that men could divorce their wives. However, Jesus faulted their hard hearts for not seeing God???s ideal for men and women. Though God allowed divorce, and the divorce laws of the Old Testament were progressive for their time, the trajectory of God???s revelation was determined by the two becoming one as determined in Genesis.
Therefore, we can find scriptures that permit divorce liberally and those that push for a very limited understanding of it. Sometimes we???ll find a variety of views on a topic in scripture, leaving us with the hard work of sorting out the best application for today.
In the case of women we have examples in the Old Testament of women ruling as a judge (Deborah) and speaking for God as a prophet (Huldah), though in the NT Paul sometimes restricted the role of women in public worship. There are passages that support women in leadership and those that restrict them, though much like the divorce example, we can find some additional clues in the created order. The Genesis creation narrative reads: ???So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.??? Gene 1:27 (RSV)
This means we read Paul with an awareness that from the beginning of creation men and women have been declared equal in their reflection of God???s image. We can draw different implications about the degree to which men and women are equal and complement one another, but if anything Genesis leads us to conclude that men and women have equal value in their status as beings created in God???s image.
When we take this understanding into Ephesians 5 we find an even stronger case for Amy???s point that this passage points us toward mutual submission and humility in the way of Christ, rather than striving for position or authority.
To dig a little deeper into this passage and related methods of interpretation, take a look at William Webb???s excellent book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.
Ed Cyzewski blogs at http://www.inamirrordimly.com
The Dreaded Question
There are these two guys that attend The Worship Center (my Father’s church). I’ve known them both for a large part of my life. They are mentors of mine, former youth leaders of mine, and friends. One is Davey. In the absence of an older brother, he has filled those shoes in my life. He taught me to drive, let me borrow his car to pick up my date for my Junior Prom, and he is one of the few people besides my Father I go to when I need council. The other man is Anthony. A gifted artist from South Africa who has been in my life since before I was in middle school and before he was married. Sharing a cigar with Anthony and admiring art or God’s blessing in our lives is one of my most treasured joys.
But, you hang out with either of them for more than 10 minutes and they are bound to ask “The Dreaded Question.”
What is “The Dreaded Question?” Simple. It is, “What is God doing in your life?” Now, this may be worded slightly differently at times. Sometimes it will present itself as, “What is God showing you?” or, “How is God moving in your life?” Or my personal favorite, “How is your walk going?”
This seems like a harmless inquiry, but if you aren’t prepared; if you are caught off-guard, it may leave you stammering for an answer Forest Gump-style as you silently pray for a car accident, gunshot, or ANYTHING to distract from your inability to answer.
Oftentimes, my answer is simple: I don’t know. Maybe it is my arrested development or an elongated adolescence, but all I can think of is, “I don’t know.”
What?! Oh the horror! Now, of course… I don’t say that. It usually goes something like this, “Oh wow… What a great question! So much. SO much. Wow, God is working in crazy-awesome ways in my life…. (pause for effect, maybe look up and point to the Big Guy)… How bout you?”
There was a time, recently, when I decided to have an answer locked and loaded, ready for The Dreaded Question. A spiritual press release if you will. My Holy Mission Statement. When asked, I would simply say, “Wow, I think God has been really trying to teach me patience the past few months.” Now, there was a large chunk of time when my fake answer actually coincided with what God was doing in my life. But basically, that was dumb luck… and God still continues to teach me patience so I can always fall back on that.
But what is he REALLY doing in my life? What is he doing in yours? Can you answer that? I mean, honestly? I mean, sure… You are attending a small group and you are having sincere quiet times at least 3 times a week… But what is God trying to stress in your life? Where is he trying to build you up? Where is he allowing you to break down? And Why?
Here are some ways to know that your answer might be BS:
If your answer starts with, “Oh, well I’m reading/studying this book/chapter/commentary.”
Or, “I’m taking this class/seminar/workshop.”
Then, I call foul!
Which is not to say that workshops and classes and books and commentaries can’t be immensely helpful in your walk. They really can be, and SHOULD be a part of your devotional life. But your devotional life is different from what God is doing in your personal, spiritual walk.
So how do we defend against The Dreaded Question? Well, there are a couple ways. First, if you know someone who seems to have their answer nailed down, someone who openly offers you the things God is doing in their lives even without being asked… SPEND TIME WITH THAT PERSON. Ask them what they ask God for. Ask them how God spoke to them. Vince spoke recently about seeking the council of the wise. If someone has what you want… Maybe you should try to learn from them.
Second, ask God. I know that for me personally, my prayers often focus on what I want God to do. We need to be even more concerned with what God wants US to do. So, ask Him. Ask how he wants to show up in a particular situation. Ask what he wants you to learn from what’s going on in your life. Ask him what he wants you to get out of the book you’re reading or the class you are taking. And of course, ask him to show up! Now, just because you pray for this does not mean he’s just going to raise the curtain and say, “Here ya go! This is what I want.” We don’t get a laundry list or a set of goals from God. But He will reveal, in His time, what He wants out of your devotion and where He is leading you. And I know, consoling someone by saying “it is all in God’s timing” is about as comforting as an airplane seat belt (really? This thing’s gonna help?) But it’s true, staying focused on God and being patient goes a long way.
And lastly, if you didn’t like either of those two options you can always just say, “I don’t know.” Seriously. If that is where you are at, that’s fine. In fact, say this instead, “I’m not sure what God is trying to do in my life right now… Can you be praying for me?” That way, you’ve avoided lying about your relationship with God (always a bonus) and you’ve got someone praying for you! That’s a win-win!
Let’s take the “Dread” out of the Dreaded Question.
What are you thoughts on “The Dreaded Question?”
This came to me this morning. Laurie is a dear friend. She and our other friends at LMCI were hit with the news this week that two of their loved ones had been taken home. This article is spiritual fruit born of Laurie’s struggle. As we continue to fervently pray for all of those affected, as the Holy Spirit leads, may we receive this beautiful reminder that we serve a risen Savior. We don’t have to wait for heaven to hear His voice and experience His presence. May the Holy Spirit reignite or fan the flames of passion for Jesus in the heart of everyone who reads this.
“Exercising Authority in the Name of Jesus”
Glorious Heartburn by Laurie DanielTwo very perplexed men were in deep conversation about all of this as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A stranger came walking along beside them, inquiring as to why they were so down in the dumps. The men didn???t recognize the resurrected Jesus and one of them began informing the outsider of all of the events of the past few days. Then Jesus responded,???Oh . . . slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory???? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25b???27).
These men were spiritually blind, downhearted, and in need of hope. Along comes Jesus, their Rescuer in disguise, full of grace and truth to free their troubled souls. The Light of the World walked alongside of the two men on the road, and offered them a heavenly kingdom perspective. Jesus did not condemn them and walk off because of their issues. He did not leave or forsake them, but intentionally positioned Himself in their midst and began to lovingly admonish and correct them. The Son of God burned off the cloud of disappointment and confusion by setting their heart ablaze with revelation of Himself.What a demonstration of the loving kindness and tender mercies of the Savior! No doubt the resurrected Messiah had a full agenda to carry out in His limited time on earth. How marvelous that His schedule included reaching out to just two ordinary disciples. The Lord Jesus knew exactly what the two men were experiencing and He spoke directly into their heart.
As they neared Emmaus, the two guys constrained the foreigner to dine with them. When the three sat down to eat, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and then He vanished from their sight. The men passionately exclaimed to one another,“Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).What a fire must have ignited their soul in the light of His presence! One can only imagine the joy and comfort that overwhelmed these men! What a holy communion! The memory of that day would not soon fade, for they received an eternal impartation of the very life of Christ.After Jesus suddenly disappears from their midst, the men were so excited that they got up from the table and rushed back the seven miles to Jerusalem in the dark of night. Breathless, they found their company of friends and declared everything that they had witnessed???that which they had seen and heard, concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1???3).May we remember that in these days of increasing darkness, this same Jesus that ministered to the two men on the road to Emmaus ever lives to illuminate our heart with Himself. No matter how discouraged or confused we become, may we continue to listen for the voice of our Lord and open the door.???Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.??? Revelation 3:20Our Lord jealously yearns for our fellowship and desires to dine with us daily. He???s standing at the door, eager to pour out new wine, and feed us His bread of life and living water. In His presence we???ll find fullness of joy, and glorious, oh so glorious heartburn!
that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed
I want to know. What would you do?We left.
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
After class, I went for a run before going to the Ash Wednesday service. Since college, I’ve found myself anticipating Lent more than Advent. This season of house keeping – the setting of things to right – both stretches me beyond comfort and comforts me beyond reason. The chance to sacrifice small comforts in celebration of our great, incomprehensible reprieve and the anticipation of redemption to keep us afloat. So I walk into the hushed sanctuary, flushed from the fresh air & the endorphins, glowing with commitment, ready for holiness. The minister speaks and I am so convicted, so hopeful & thankful. Yes! I’m so terrible! Yes! I can love my neighbor as myself. Amen! My house is not 2 miles from the church and before I make it through my front door, I’m seething with murderous thoughts, wishing I could take a hammer to his head or tell her what I really think. And if my own private thoughts aren’t bad enough, I’m needlessly rude to my dear friend Tim.
have mercy on us and forgive us;
T. S. Eliot wrote a poem called Ash Wednesday and in it is a line I go back to again and again when I don’t know how else to pray. Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still. Only a handful of words and yet they are strong and broad enough to hold all my questions & inadequacies. I need to be taught to care for my neighbor better – how to love that woman, how to love Tim, how to love people who hurt me. How to love like Christ, because of Christ’s love for me. I need to stop caring about the things that don’t matter, the voices who really won’t have a say in the final count. Thank God for these 40 days to learn to sit still, to turn, to listen, to change. Thank God that His grace is not limited by merit, time nor space.
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your name. Amen.
The counter on A Home in Haiti’s website currently reads 7 days, 8 hours, 33 min, and 53 seconds. It’s counting down the time until the rainy season arrives in Haiti.
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