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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Women in Ministry: Not the Real Question

The real question is, “Can women become Christians?”

If women can become Christians, then the next question should be, “Has Christ called every one of His Christian followers to follow Him and His Word, regardless of gender?

If Christ has called every one of His followers to follow Him and His Word, then the third question is, “How are we to follow Him?”

The answer to the third question brings us right back to His Word, because we each are specifically called to discover from His Word exactly what our priorities in life are supposed to be. When we go back to the Bible for our answers, there just isn’t anything in His Word that tells me that as His follower, I am supposed to focus only on my own household, functioning only as a “keeper at home” and then occupy my “spare time” with various church socials, exchanging recipes, and doing crafts. Real life isn’t about over socialization, over feeding, or constantly re-feathering the nest.

The basic idea of putting the family first after our relationship with Christ does, in fact, come from the Bible. But frequently it is twisted and reinterpreted to give us a picture of a woman being a constant at-home, on-call extension of her husband as his “helpmeet,” which would certainly be just fine, if “helpmeet” is interpreted as God intended, instead of coming from some husband’s fantasy, where his responsibilities are delegated to the “weaker sex” while somehow the man magically is able to retain the position of absolute authority.

This truly is the underlying fantasy, because everywhere in the reality of God’s Word, He defines “authority” as nothing less than “responsibility.” So actually, without knowing it, some men who are ignorant of the Scriptures are really demanding absolute responsibility, which they really have no intention of fulfilling, when they are demanding absolute authority.

While most men and women are looking for power and control, God is looking for those who will joyfully obey His Word and take the specific responsibilities He has given them. While there are only a few who are on this narrow road designed for those who really love the sound of His voice; be encouraged. Real Christians do exist and you may be one of them.

Our first responsibility is to allow Jesus Christ and His Word to be preeminent in our own personal life and then in our family. When this really happens in the Church or in the family, it brings unity through truth to the Church as well as the family. This is indeed, a very rare thing to see in today’s church or the world, which is promoting unity through forceful authority. This is unity for the sake of unity, instead of unity through truth as Jesus taught.

Actually the one, who has taken the most responsibility, actually has the most authority. So herein lays the truth regarding role reversals. While some men are demanding authority in the home and in the church, they are actually giving it away to women, because they refuse to take their God-given responsibilities. They often demand that women take on their responsibilities and then complain because they think women are trying to take their “authority” away from them.

We won’t plumb the depths of this topic today as it relates to authority struggles in the church and home, but instead will look at it from the perspective of idolatry, as it pertains to a woman’s responsibility to make Christ preeminent in her life.

Yes, this means that Jesus Christ actually expects women to put the Word of God, not their husband or anyone else, first in their lives. Be warned, when either husband or wife actually allows Christ to be preeminent in their life, the enemies of Christ become their enemies and we can expect that all Hates is going to break loose. Things may get much worse before they get any better.

So, what about women in ministry?

Certainly a woman usually has enough work at home to keep her busy. Possibly she also has a job that can take up valuable time and energy. Nevertheless in all fairness, the same could be said about a husband.

Therefore, the only correct approach we can have is to go back to the very first question regarding whether a woman can actually become a Christian. We must return to this question because it speaks to the issue of personal salvation as well as personal responsibility under the authority of the Word of God.

Paul tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Here the Bible teaches that men and women are standing on the same spiritual level when they become Christians. They are individuals saved individually through their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In the true Body of Christ, women do not depend on men, the church, or anyone else for salvation. Women are also personally responsible to God for the specific works they are called to do, once they are born-again.

The specific works God requires each of us to do involve the basic works associated with the way we are created (male or female) and the role God has given us as well as our personal calling. A man is not to “lord it over” a woman and a woman is not to “lord it over” a man.

We must learn balance according to the Scriptures so our responsibilities can be prioritized correctly and harmonized within the family. Ministry is not about deciding what good works we are going to do, but about learning to wait on God’s direction and the opportunities He will bring. Often these opportunities are not what we have in mind. They may appear to be too humble at first, when we are picturing ourselves standing in the limelight.

God’s will regarding the eternal destination of those with whom we come in contact, should always be our main focus in ministry. This means that God may call us to help someone clean their house or help them find food or shelter before He will lead us to share His Word with them.

Jesus preached to the woman He happened to meet at the well. He wasn’t standing on a stage after musicians ushered Him in with heavenly melodies, to preach to an audience seated in an air conditioned auditorium filled with padded chairs. Jesus told us that the greatest among us would be those who serve others; not as others determine they would like to be served, but as God personally leads us to serve others according to what He determines they really need. In this way believers do not become any other person’s slave, but serve others according to God’s specific will.

This happens to be the true definition of the word, "minister." In this case, every born-again believer is called to minister, whether man, woman, boy, or girl.

The problem we are going to have with this truth is discovering how to reconcile God’s definition of ministering with the world’s idea of a “minister.” It is a fearful thing to tamper with the world’s religious hierarchal system of control. Why everybody could start ministering to everyone else and how ever could the “church” control that?

If people realized that they did not really need to be “officially” ordained in order to minister, they might just do it. Then we could have women ministering over the back fence while they hang out the laundry or while they prune the flowers in their gardens. They might even start noticing the problems other women are having at home or on the streets and could possibly start reaching out to them, showing them God’s Way out of their situations.

Why we couldn’t have that. No, this could lead to women actually quoting Bible verses to strangers or others at church and actually competing with the pastor. Couldn’t this be considered “unlawful” preaching or preaching without a license or causing confusion in the church?

One preacher on television recently warned people, telling them that false religion is caused by individuals sharing the Word of God instead of leaving that up to the leaders in the Church who are really qualified.

Does this sound familiar? Isn’t this what William Tyndale was burned at the stake for? It was that “awful crime” of translating the Word of God into the common language of the people. His intention was to get the Word of God into the hands of every person, even the farmer plowing the field, so they could read it themselves and many could come to a saving knowledge of Christ, turn from their sin, and receive eternal life.

If a man or a woman wants to share the Word of God (i.e. preach—which by the way, does not mean standing on a stage screaming at people), but as the Bible tells us, letting them first learn so they know what they are talking about, preaching, and teaching about.

Furthermore, going to seminary does not guarantee that one will personally be able to interpret the Word of God or be a good preacher, or for that matter does not guarantee that he/she is even a real Christian. Anyone can go in one door and out the other with a diploma from a seminary, or stand behind a pulpit, or wear religious garb.

But if our relationship with Jesus Christ is real, whether we are a man or a woman, we are commanded to share His Word and His Gospel of Salvation wherever we go. Don’t fret over being “ordained” or about getting someone’s approval to minister. Just do it.

Begin today. Take the Word of God and spend some serious time in it and when you let the Word interpret the Word and you know what God wants you to know and have applied it to your own life and seen the power it has, then by all means, go forth and share it with the world.

The same Holy Spirit that teaches us the Word of God will also lead us to those who are waiting to hear it. Often they will also be the ones humbled in life, needing some physical help, so let God polish your gifts and abilities as well, so you can freely offer help. Then He will bring opportunities to you to truly minister to others physically as well as spiritually.

Real ministry is not about us building some religious organization or structure, looking good on a stage or becoming a celebrity on Christian television. Ministry is really about Jesus Christ and how He wants to put us in touch with those the Father has called before the foundation of the earth, so they can hear His Word, realize that they are His sheep and will follow Him right into eternity.

Time is running out. Minister NOW. . .Share what God has given you before it is too late.