Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Know Your Role

*This was originally written as an essay for my English class.  I have expanded my thoughts a bit since I have no word count limits on this blog :)      

  For many years, women have been silenced in the church and their role has been limited to teaching children and baking casseroles.  While children and food ministries are very important, women have so much more to offer the body of Christ.   God calls all of us to obedience, and when women are forced to conform to man made religious laws, they can be forced to disobey God’s calling on their lives.  All of God’s children have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit, and women should be encouraged to use their gifts to benefit the church.

            Peter quotes the prophet Joel, “'And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.  I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy.'” (Acts 2:17-18 HCSB)  In order for a woman to be able to prophesy, she must be able to speak.  God promises to pour out His Spirit on all people, men and women alike.  The Holy Spirit equips each of us with gifts we are expected to use to build up the church and to minister to those outside of the church: wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophesy, distinguishing between spirits, different kinds of languages, and the ability to interpret the languages. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 HCSB).  The Holy Spirit does not distribute the gifts as man sees fit, and there is no indication in the Scriptures that they will be distributed  based on the gender of the recipient, but rather,  distributed as He wills.  (1 Corinthians 12:11)  

There are several instances in the Bible of women using their spiritual gifts and praying in the presence of men, as well as serving in leadership roles.  After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples gathered in the upper room and were “continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14)   Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, invited a Jew named Apollos into their home so that they could teach him the way of God more accurately to him. (Acts 18:26)  The evangelist, Philip, had four daughters who prophesied . (Acts 21:9)  Paul commends Phoebe, a deacon, in the Roman church, and encourages them to welcome her in a manner pleasing to the Lord. (Romans 16:1).  Did Paul feel the need to let them know of her coming ahead of time, encouraging them to welcome her because they struggled with the same issue of women's role in the church as we do?  

            It is better to obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29)    Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 HCSB).  Too often,  man made rules regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit have caused women to question whether or not it really was the voice of their Shepherd they were hearing when called into certain ministries.  It takes courage for a woman to go against what her culture has deemed acceptable, but she must “be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV)  No human can tell you what ministries God has called you to.  No human can limit the spiritual gifts you have been given by God.   In the end, who will we have to answer to:  Man or God?  I don't know about you, but I want to be obedient to the One who will decide my eternal fate.  Hebrews 10:35-38 says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For, 'In just a little while, he is coming will come and not delay." And, 'But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.'"  I can not help but wonder how many times women have "shrunk back" from saying something (prophesying), or praying with someone, or pursuing a certain ministry that God has called them to because of limitations the church has placed on women.

            When women’s role in the church is limited, some women are often forced to serve in areas in which they are not gifted.   If women are to be obedient to God, they must be able to serve in areas that man has closed off to them.  “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelations 3:8 NIV)   Women must find the courage to step outside the confines of church culture and tradition in order to discover the gifts the Holy Spirit has given them and use them to produce what is beneficial for the church.  In the end, we all want to hear God say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 5:21 NIV)  

Romans 16:25-27 (HCSB)
Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages  but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—  to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to Him be the glory forever! Amen.