An Unusual Man Who Loves and Cares About Women

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“And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”” – Luke 4:17-21

Wow! I find this to be one of the most beautiful and powerful narratives in the bible. With the words “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” Jesus fulfilled and summed up His mission on earth! Right from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus declared, “It has been fulfilled! Today, what was prophesied has come to pass! It is done! At the end of His life the statement remained true and unchanged, as on the Cross Jesus cried out once again, “It is finished!” The mission has been accomplished! The captives are free! Hallelujah!

For women everywhere, there is a double reason to rejoice because Jesus has not only set us free from sin and reconciled us to God, He has also freed us from the snare and bondage that women have had to endure for ages! Come on, woman, give a shout and rejoice because the scripture has already been fulfilled and we have been set free, released and liberated!

If the Son Makes You free…

The word free means not subject to the rule or control of another or not bound, confined or detained by force. It also means to relieve from constraint, restraint or limitation. To free someone is to liberate, discharge, redeem, release, relieve, unshackle, unchain or loosen them.

So when He cried, “It is finished”, after reading Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus was telling all humanity, including women everywhere, that we have been set free, released, redeemed, unchained, and loosened from the constraints of sin, oppression and bondage.  We are no longer subject to the rule or control of sin, Satan or any other thing or person, except God, of course. Indeed, the snare is broken, the limitations have been removed and we can be all that God intended and purposed for us to be!

Why then does the Church struggles with this? Why do many leaders struggle with this? Why do many women struggle with this? I know things are improving and women are gradually rising up in that freedom, however, we still have a long way to go because many, many women still sit in church struggling, feeling helpless, redundant, small, bound up and suffocating. Tradition and culture, wrong doctrines and teachings, fear, prejudice and religion have all contributed to keeping women in bondage and oppression, and making them of little use to the Kingdom of God.

This article is dedicated to all women out there who are still confused and struggling, with the hope that they will turn their eyes from all else to our Lord, Saviour, King and Friend, Jesus Christ, who shows women exceptional love and compassion, and gives them dignity and freedom.

Jesus, An Unusual Man!!!

Jesus was an unusual Man! Jesus was a Man who truly loved and valued women and demonstrated the Father’s heart towards us over and over again! The culture He was born into denied women many things, including access to God, but Jesus brought freedom to all the women He met. He was not afraid to be identified with women. He walked with them, related to them and befriended them on a level that was forbidden and considered a taboo in His day. Yes, Jesus was a Man who was not afraid to use women for the benefit of the Kingdom of God!!!

Pope John Paul II said of Him, “Jesus always showed the greatest esteem and the greatest respect for woman, for every woman, and in particular He was sensitive to female suffering. Going beyond the religious and social barriers of the time, Jesus re-established woman in her full dignity as a human person before God and before men.”

Therefore, to find a truly biblical view of women and their place in God’s kingdom, the best place to start is to take a good look at how He related to and treated the women He encountered. Jesus had a very radical view about women and often deliberately went out of His way to challenge the cultural biases against them. What lessons can we learn from Him?

Jewish Culture In Jesus’ Day

First, let’s take a brief look at Jewish culture during Jesus’ time on earth. In the culture in which Jesus was born, women were generally considered to be inferior to men. They were considered a little more than property, and were always under the authority of men – either their father before marriage, or their husband afterwards. A quote by Rabbi Jesus ben Sirach summed up a woman’s position, “He who acquires a wife gets his best possessions.”

Women were considered as ‘inferior’ or ‘servants’ and their place was in the field, at the well, or in the kitchen. They could not go out in public, talk to strangers and were not allowed to talk to men in public, except to their own husbands. When outside of their homes, they were to be doubly veiled.

Women were not allowed to testify in court since the testimony or witness of a woman was considered untrustworthy. They were not allowed to enter the temples and were segregated from men in the synagogues. Because women were only valued for their ‘subservient’ roles as wives and mothers, they were not permitted to be taught by rabbis. Rabbi Eliezer, who lived in Palestine in 1st century, was quoted to say, “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman… Whoever teaches his daughter is like one who teaches obscenity”. A popular Jewish prayer goes like this, “Oh Lord I thank you for not creating me a woman.”

Jesus’ Attitude Towards Women

Bearing this in mind, we would find that Jesus’ interaction with women were rather radical and contradicted everything the society was accustomed to. Jesus broke many of their traditions and customs relating to women. Jesus overthrew centuries of Jewish law and tradition, and consistently treated women and men as equals. Jesus violated many of the regulations that portrayed women as inferior to men, and did not follow the rules of behaviour established by the Jewish religious groups of the day. The way He interacted with women was revolutionary! No wonder they were constantly seeking to kill Him!

They were many instances of Jesus’ personal interaction and dealings with women. Indeed, His mission was to set the captives free. Come with me and let’s meet some of those women… Yes, come see a Man!!!

Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42)

In this narrative, we find Jesus with Mary sitting at feet, being taught the word of God by Him.  It is important to remember that it was against Jewish tradition to teach a woman the Torah (Old Testament). Yet, here was Jesus, a Rabbi, teaching Mary, a woman, the word! This was unheard of and improper. Martha’s tone of voice showed her extreme annoyance with and surprise at Jesus for indulging in what was apparently unlawful, improper and out of order. Unfortunately, there are STILL too many Marthas in Church… I’ll say no more!

Jesus mildly rebuked Martha but praised Mary for choosing the ‘good part’ – freedom to pursue the knowledge of God! With this, Jesus overturned the tradition and taboo of not teaching a woman to read the Torah, the Word of God. If Jesus taught Mary the Word, all women can learn and study the word.

The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-30)

I love this story! Jesus met and had a conversation with a foreign woman! By Jewish tradition and law, this woman was doubly ritually unclean since she was both a foreigner and a woman. First of all, she was a Samaritan and so a foreigner. Jews and Samaritans in those days hated each other so much that Jews travelling from Galilee to Judea would rather take a longer route than pass through Samaria. Interacting with Samaritans, therefore, was a no no! Secondly, it was very improper and socially unacceptable for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children in public. No self respecting man would break that taboo, certainly not with someone considered a prostitute, as this woman perceived to be. No wonder Jesus’ disciples were shocked to see Him speaking to her!

Yet, Jesus deliberately passed through Samaria in order to meet with this nameless woman. To Him it was a double opportunity to set her free from the limitations of gender and race, giving her access to God and His kingdom. That double opportunity still stands for me, you and all non-Jewish women! Hallelujah!

Jesus entered in a conversation with the woman and revealed Himself and His mission on earth to her! The woman’s response was to become the first evangelist! Contrary to tradition, the people in the city believed the woman’s witness, which is what happens when you have been with Jesus!

The Haemorrhaging Woman (Luke 8:43-48, Mark 5:25-34)

This is the story of a nameless woman with a gynaecological problem who had been bleeding for 12 years, and who reached out to touched Jesus and was healed. The woman knew Jesus could heal her, but couldn’t approach Him to ask for healing. She was even so afraid to touch Him that she only sought to touch the hem of His garment. For her the limitations were also double – she was not only a woman, she was also considered unclean.

First of all, it was a major cultural offence for a woman to talk to a man other than her husband or son in public. Secondly, the natural menstrual cycle of woman was seen as ritually unclean, and anything a woman touched during her period became unclean and had to be purified. For this woman to touch Jesus was a really big deal!

We can only imagine the pain, rejection, loneliness and isolation she must have felt. Yet, Jesus ignored these ritual impurity laws and had mercy on her. Even though the crowd was pressing around Him, Jesus felt the woman’s touch and stopped to address her. He called her ‘daughter’, a term of endearment which restored her God-given identity. Jesus healed and restored her completely.

The Adulterous Woman (John 8:1-11)

The story portrays the hateful judgemental bias towards women in Jesus’ day. Here was a woman who had been caught in adultery and about to be stoned, according to Jewish Law (Hosea 5:14). However, there was no reference to the man she had been involved with. It appeared the woman alone was being punished, and the man seemed to have got away scot-free.

Jesus was compassionate towards the woman and said, “Neither do I condemn you”. This was one of the most beautiful expressions of His unconditional love. Neither does He condemn us!

The Woman With The Spirit of Infirmity (Luke 13:10-17)

This story tells us how the Man Jesus delivered and healed a woman from an indwelling satanic spirit. This, yet again, nameless woman was bound by Satan and suffered from a kind of spinal problem. She was bent over and yoked by her infirmity, thus her life, scope of vision and activity were limited. She suffered not only as a woman, but also from her disability. Interestingly, she was not the one who asked Jesus for healing. It was Jesus who initiated the step towards her deliverance and restoration. He had compassion on her and reached out to heal her.

Something even more dramatic happened in this story! Jesus referred to the woman as “daughter of Abraham,” implying that she had equal status with the sons of Abraham. The expression ‘son of Abraham’ was commonly used to respectfully refer to Jewish men, but ‘daughter of Abraham’, was an unknown parallel phrase and occurs nowhere else in the Bible. It would appear that Jesus created the title for this woman to change her status from a demon afflicted nobody to a covenant child of God by including her as a covenant member of Abraham’s family.

Women in Jesus’ Inner Circle (Luke 8:1-3)

Jesus accepted women in His inner circle. This scripture describes the inner circle of Jesus’ followers. There were twelve male disciples and an unspecified number of female supporters – Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and “many others.” It would appear that at least half of Jesus’ closest followers and friends were women.

Mary of Bethany, Again!!

 Finally, let’s look at the story of Mary of Bethany, the woman who anointed Jesus. Two anointing took place – one in Galilee where again, Jesus interacted with an immoral woman who anointed Him (Luke 7:36-50) and this one in Bethany.

“Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” (John 12:1-3)

The scripture says, they made Jesus a supper and Martha came in to do what she was accustomed to – she came to wait on and serve Jesus and the guests. Martha, obviously, hadn’t changed! Oh, how many women encounter Jesus and remain unchanged and bound by tradition, culture and fear!!!

Anyway, Mary who had been set free from tradition and empowered by Jesus, on the other hand, came in to worship Jesus. Mary’s interactions with Jesus and His empowerment through the Word encouraged her to break three social and cultural taboos in this incident. The people present must have had a real shock when Jesus commended her actions and distinguished it as something that would be remembered wherever the gospel is preached. Mary demonstrated her love and appreciation for what the Lord has done and set an example for women everywhere to emulate.

The Significance of Mary’s Actions

1. Mary entered a “male-only club”.

Women were not allowed to sit with men on important occasions such as this one. However, Mary entered because Jesus was there; for where Jesus is there is acceptance, dignity and freedom for women. Mary’s actions tells us that God has made a way for women in what, until then and now, has been a man’s world.  In today’s male-dominated world of Church and ministry, many women, like Mary, who have encountered Jesus and are being empowered through His word are rising up, responding to His call and entering an arena that has been denied them for so long. Woman, so far as Jesus is there, you have access!

History has proved that when women get actively involved in evangelism and mission work the harvest is greater. The Quakers and Salvation Army are organisations that utilised women in evangelism and missions. It is time to release women to get into the harvest field to join men, together and in partnership, to fulfil the Great Commission.

2. Mary unveiled her hair.

Mary unveiled her hair, which is her glory – her substance, weight, honour, splendour, magnificence and excellence. (1 Corinthians 11:15). In Jesus’ time, only a prostitute would unveil her hair in public. So, it was very dramatic for Mary to enter this all-male gathering and unveil her hair. Why did she do it? What is the significance of that to us?

I believe that as women join in the work of God’s kingdom, the glory that only a woman possesses, and which has been hidden and covered for so long, will be unfolded and unravelled. There are certain qualities that women possess naturally and which the Church requires to effectively fulfil the Great Commission. A woman’s ability to take seed, incubate, nurture and birth it. This life giving, seed multiplying and birthing ability could be released for the benefit of the Church. Many ministries could be birthed and sustained on the knees and by the activities of women. Many souls could be birthed into the kingdom of God as a result of much prayer and diligent evangelism. Women also possess the ability and patience to nurture and nourish what they have birthed, thus souls won into the kingdom can be nurtured and discipled by women till they reach maturity. Also, women possess the ability to network and sustain relationships, which are necessary qualities required to bring the Church together in the bond of unity and love.

Indeed, it is time for the glory that only woman possesses to be revealed and exposed in the Church and to the world. Women in Christ, let us arise and unveil our glory. IT IS ALRIGHT WITH JESUS!!!

3. Mary anointed Jesus’ Feet with Fragrant Oil

Finally, like the fragrance of this costly oil, women who will arise and be use by God will be committed and devoted people who love the Lord passionately. They will be women whose lives have been touched and transformed by God’s hands. The fragrance that will be released as the lives of these women are poured out will flow from love, adoration, devotion and worship, and will fill the whole earth. These women will spare no cost to prepare the body of Christ for His Second Coming. These women will go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel and establish the kingdom of God on earth. Like Mary these women will sacrifice all, as they march into hell to release captives held by the enemy.

The oil Mary used was mainly reserved for anointing the dead to prevent the corpse from decomposing and corrupting. Yet, Mary poured this precious oil on the living body of Jesus. In applying this precious oil to the living body of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserving the Body of Christ, and proclaiming that the Body of Jesus, the Resurrection and Life, will not die, corrupt, rot or perish. As women rise up, we will continue to play this same crucial role in preserving the Body of Christ, especially in these end-times. The oil and fragrance from our broken lives, in worship and service, will cover and preserve the Church, the Living Body of Jesus.

It Is Finished!!!

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Dear women in Christ, Jesus came to show us the way. He came to show us the Father’s heart. Jesus came to redeem humanity, including us! The gospel He preached set women free and released them from the oppression and bondage they had endured. He showed care, compassion and exceptional love towards the women He came across. Every opportunity Jesus had, He used proclaim what God had already FINISHED!!!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! Woman, in Christ, you are free indeed!!!

IT IS FINISHED!

 

By Apostle Jennifer Abigail Wallace

An extract from Apostle Jennifer Abigail Wallace book, “FREE TO SERVE, GOD’S LIBERATED WOMAN.”

This article can be used by permission but with reference to author

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The Status of Women: In Church or In Christ? (Part 2)

Status of Women

“The vision of a great  multitude that no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne (Revelation 7:9) certainly has women as major stakeholders.  I dare say women will be in the majority. How can this vision be realized when we live in societies that do not believe in the spiritual and social worth of women? There is no gainsaying that women form a greater majority of the congregations of most churches in the world… It is undeniable that they fit perfectly in God’s redemptive plan.” – Mrs. Jane Quaye (FIDA Ghana)

As believers, our ultimate expectation is that one day we will be a part of that multitude standing before the Throne of God and the Lamb, praising and worshipping God! However, the possibility of women being in the majority is much food for thought. Women, redeemed and washed by the precious Blood of Jesus, standing side by side with men, redeemed and washed by the precious Blood of Jesus, praising and worshipping God! This is the glorious Church, the Bride of the Lamb!!! There will be no separation between the races, and no differentiation between the genders and no partition between the statuses! We will all stand on that day, bearing the same identity, gender and status…

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29

I love the part that says, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ!” God sees us (race, gender, social status and all), covered up in Christ!!! Apparently, when He looks at the Church, He does not see race, gender or social status. God only sees His sons (children).

Women in Christ

The good news to women, therefore, is that our identity and status before God is in Christ. God see us as ones who have been redeemed and reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus!

Romans 5:10-11 tells us, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Also read 1 Peter 1:18,19)

Women have been redeemed from the curse of sin and reconciled with God, just as men. There is no condemnation against us and we can live the full life of faith in Christ by His Spirit! We must, therefore, see ourselves as women in Christ, before anything else! Let us discuss further what it means to be women in Christ.

Renewed Identity

There is no question in scripture about the identity of women in Christ. We are sons of the living God. Sonship, in the New Testament, is not by virtue of gender, but rather is a status, position and function, which is conferred by the Holy Spirit upon all who come into Christ.

Romans 8:14-17 tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together”.

Without doubt Paul’s words are true – we are sons of God, irrespective of our gender, race and social status (Galatians 4:4-7). The Holy Spirit confirms and affirms us as sons and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Women and men share the inheritance of the Kingdom of God with Christ. Women share the possessions, blessings and benefits of our inheritance within the Kingdom, equally with men. We must therefore also share the responsibility of proclaiming and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom equally with men, which is what Jesus, the Son of God, showed us to do.

A New Status

Women in Christ receive a new status. As joint-heir with Christ, we receive authority, power and dominion.

Daniel 7:18,27 tells us that “…The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”  

This promise is to the saints, irrespective of gender, race or status. The Book of Ephesians also gives very detailed descriptions of the status and position of dominion we have in Christ.

  • We have been adopted as sons by Jesus Himself (Eph 1:5)
  • We have obtained an inheritance (Eph 1:11)
  • We have been sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13)
  • We have been made alive, together with Christ and raised up to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Eph 1:20,21; 2:5,6)

Restored Purpose                         

As women in Christ, together with men, our purpose has been restored to fulfil the commission and mandate given to both man and woman in Genesis 2. Men and women can rule and reign and replenish the earth again.

Jesus confirmed this when He gave The Great Commission, sending His followers, men and women, (Luke 8:1-3; Mark 16:1-8) out to proclaim the Good News of His Kingdom. Jesus said to them,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”Mark 16:15-18

The Father endorsed our restored purpose when He sent His precious Holy Spirit upon the men and women who waited in the Upper Room. (Acts 1:14)

Jesus had promised His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, He filled all those present, both men and women, and empowered them to preach the Gospel, fulfilling Joel’s prophecy

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” – Joel 2:29

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church is to help us live the life of victory in Christ Jesus and to be witnesses to Him by proclaiming, sharing and preaching the Gospel. In pouring the Spirit upon both men and women, God was endorsing and affirming the purpose of women as co-labourers with men, in His Kingdom. Women who are cleansed by the Blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit can work with men to proclaim and build God’s Kingdom!!!

Freedom’s Demand!

Jesus Christ the Son of God has set women free and we are free indeed. For if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! (John 8:36) We are free to worship and serve God in any way He chooses and leads us to.

Dr. Myles Monroe says that, “True freedom is permission to work and fulfil your potential!” Therefore, the greatest way in which women can exhibit our freedom is to work and be in effective service to the Lord. This is more than just staying in church ushering, singing and teaching Sunday School. As women in Christ, our service must reach beyond our “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.” It must reach beyond our churches and families to our communities, work places and social environments. The freedom Christ won for us demands that we serve Him!

 In Christ First!

Unfortunately, the biases and prejudices that limit women from serving the Lord, especially within particular denominations, take away the freedom given to women by Jesus Christ. This does not only undermine and compromise the Good News that Jesus preached; it also prevents women from rising up in the fullness of liberty to serve God! The simple truth is that partial freedom is not good enough! You cannot take away someone’s freedom on one hand and expect them to walk in that same freedom on another hand. We cannot take away women’s freedom to fully serve God within the confines of Church and expect them to freely and effectively serve Him outside the walls of Church.

I am not only talking about women serving as leaders within the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). I am also talking about women sharing the Gospel and being salt, light and the fragrance of Christ wherever they are; women discipling and raising others; women teaching and preaching; women leading prayer and bible study groups; women raising churches; women starting ministries; women going on missions, etc! I am talking about women being proactive and showing initiative concerning the work of God’s Kingdom! I am talking about woman being leaders wherever they are, leading all to Christ!

In his book “Why Not Women,” the late Jamie Cunningham, founder of YWAM, spoke of the great benefits of sending women to the mission field. To him, the capacity, tenacity and efficiency of women on the mission field is incomparable. Unfortunately, many women are sitting in our churches, warming the pews, bored or making trouble, and the world remains unsaved…!

 It is Time for Change

This redundancy of at least half the workforce has caused the work of God’s Kingdom to suffer. There is much work to be done: the Gospel to preach, souls to save, disciples to make and territories to take to extend the boundaries and influence of the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ’s Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit must be made available to all.

Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.”

We need to ‘release’ and empower women to join the workforce on all level, according to callings, anointing, gifts and talents. This is a time when all hands must be on deck to enable the Church to fulfil her task!

Conclusion

After a careful study of the scriptures, I have come to this conclusion: women are free in Christ to serve God. Woman, whether you know it or not, you are free in Christ. Whether you believe it or not, you have been made free in Christ. Whether you live and walk in it or not, you are free in Christ. The key is to discover and know the truth of who you are as a woman in Christ Jesus, and the truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)

The Church ought to see women as joint-heirs and co-labourers with men, and not hinder them. The Church ought to equip and empower women through accurate teaching, training, gift development and by creating opportunities for service beyond the status quo. The Church ought to recognise the anointing, gifts and callings upon women and support them, knowing that it is God who chooses, calls and gives gifts.

Women also have a part to play. We must get out of ‘church mindset’ and come into ‘Christ mindset.’ We must rise up in the freedom Christ has purchased for us to work. We must walk closer with the Lord, seeking to know Him and seeking His kingdom. We must read and study the bible and train, equip and empower ourselves in Christ. We must be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit and avail ourselves to be used by Him. Above all, must rise up and freely serve God, knowing that we can only do this effectively if we define ourselves in Christ. Discover who you are in Him, surrender yourself to Him, receive grace, strength and boldness from Him and rise up to serve Him!

By Apostle Jennifer Abigail Wallace

THIS ARTICLE CAN BE USED BY PERMISSION BUT WITH REFERENCE TO AUTHOR

The Status of Women: In Church or In Christ? (Part 1)


Status of Women

“Jesus always showed the greatest esteem and the greatest respect for woman, for every woman, and in particular He was sensitive to female suffering. Going beyond the religious and social barriers of the time, Jesus re-established woman in her full dignity as a human person before God and before men.” ~ Pope John Paul II

For centuries, the debate has gone on concerning women’s role and status in church. Woman’s identity, status, position and authority has constantly been questioned and argued about for ages, especially concerning women in leadership. While the secular world is making room for women, giving them the right to vote, education, equal opportunities in employment, etc, the Church of Jesus Christ continues to struggle and sometimes fight over the ‘women issue!’

Many Christian leaders find the issue uncomfortable to deal with and would do anything to avoid it. Women who rise up to address the subject and to advocate for change are often described as Christian feminist. Thus Christian women who are using their qualifications, gifts, talents and abilities effectively and efficiently in the secular world, find themselves in church just warming the pews. Many have no desire or ambition to serve the Lord, apart from the ‘usual’ tasks often assigned to women, e.g., hospitality, stewarding/ushering, Sunday School and crèche. It is a real challenge to get women to rise up beyond those assigned tasks, to engage more effectively in true service to Christ. Those who, indeed, rise up are challenged by the limitations imposed on them or the level of control they encounter.

A Typical Experience

The leadership of the women’s department of a particular church approached me to support them in developing their ministry. For so long, the ministry had confined themselves to cooking, baking, knitting, pampering, etc. Even their retreats had given more priority to some of these things than spiritual growth and development. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with women incorporating these activities in their agenda. There is everything wrong, when these activities are constantly or deliberately given priority over spiritual growth and development!

Anyway, I explained to the leaders who approached me, that as a ministry their focus should extend beyond themselves and the walls of their church. I challenged them to help the women grow in the things of God and to stir up a desire in them to know and serve Him better. Of course, they were very pleased and excited and came up with a quarterly agenda that included spiritual growth, evangelism/outreach (targeting the area around the church) and fun (including pampering, massages, etc). We all thought it was a great plan and the women’s leadership team began to work to bring it to fruition.

Unfortunately, the Church leadership, which consisted only of men, felt very ‘uncomfortable’ with the agenda and decided to scrap it. To them the women were getting out of line and working outside the remit of the women’s ministry! Eventually that particular women’s ministry leadership team was removed from office, and replaced by a more ‘comfortable’ one.

The sad truth is that there are still leaders out there who would rather control and make every effort to keep women ‘in their place,’ than disciple, empower and release them to serve the Lord. This has resulted in many women being self and church focused rather than God’s kingdom focused and bearing very little fruit for the kingdom.

Again, the sad truth is that by limiting and under-utilizing the gifts and talents of women, the Church has operated under-capacity and not been fully effective. Unfortunately, this is one of the major setbacks to the Church’s fulfilment of Christ’s Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). For far too long, more than half of God’s workforce has been made redundant, whilst the other half has struggled to get the work done. This too IS NOT GOOD…!!!

Two Types of Women in Church

The above incident is not an isolated one. Wherever I go, I meet two types of women in church:

  1. Those who have settled and cannot see beyond the walls of their churches. Some are indifferent, apathetic and self-focused. Many come because of a need they hope will be met by the church. Some of these women come to church on Sundays as part as their social life. There are others who, like the biblical Martha, get very busy in church, but are very religious and have no real personal experience of Jesus Christ and no revelation of His kingdom and their place in it!
  2. Then there are those who are hungry and want more from God. There is a frustration in their hearts, as the feel there must be much more for them to do for the Lord. These women are often labelled as rebellious or troublemakers.

The Issue at Stake

However, a careful look at the issue at stake highlights a fundamental problem in the definition of our status as Christian women. The debate that has raged for centuries and has hindered many women has been about women’s status in Church. However, upon closer scrutiny it is very obvious that the issue is not just about the status of women in church. Underlining this debate must be a far higher and more crucial concern, that is, the status and identity of women in Christ.

The following points will explain what I mean…

  1. The argument about a woman’s place and position in God’s kingdom has, so far, been determined by the status and identity of women in Church. This has been based on specific instructions, seemingly given by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy Chapter 2, regarding the behaviour of some women in church. It appears these instructions, and a few others, have been the determining factor in how far women can go in pursuing the work of the kingdom.
  2. For so long, women have been told “You can only come so far in church because you are a woman. You can only do so much because of your gender. God has set the protocol and status quo, and you have to accept that”. Many have been vigilant in enforcing, what to them, are God’s boundaries and limitations set for women within the Church.
  3. God-given gifts, abilities, talents, grace, callings and anointing are non-consequential. What matters is that women stay and remain in their ‘place’ in church.

 The question is this: must this continue to be the predominant factor in defining the role of women in the Body of Christ, whilst the Gospel remains hindered and un-preached and the world is perishing? I do not think so! I believe there is a far more vital and conclusive determining factor in the argument about women’s place and role, that is, THE STATUS AND IDENTITY OF WOMEN IN CHRIST!

You Must Remember You Are Baptist First

I had another experience which, though a bit funny, is still very sad. A few years ago, we travelled to a country in Africa to run our Free to Serve Discipleship Course. I will not tell you which country because this is not to expose them, but just to use the experience as reference. Over 200 women attended the training and we had a terrific week, looking at the things that hinder them as women, and teaching them about Jesus and the women of His time, how to overcome fear, submission, redemption, and the freedom Christ has given them to serve Him. Many of the women had travelled down from the villages and slept on the church floor all week in order to attend all the sessions. Many were delivered from strongholds, mindsets that had kept them bound and hindered. We all rejoiced and praised God for the freedom only Jesus gives.

On the last day of the conference, one of the leaders of the church was asked to come and give the closing remarks. He first asked me and my fellow ministers, “Which church do you attend?” He then turned to address the women and his next words shocked us!

“You see, none of these speakers are Baptist! I would like to caution you, whatever you have been taught this week, you MUST remember that you are Baptist first before anything else!”

As the bible says, SELAH!!!

To be continued

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By Apostle Jennifer Abigail Wallace

THIS ARTICLE CAN BE USED BY PERMISSION BUT WITH REFERENCE TO AUTHOR