It may surprise many people, that women are categorized similarly to men, among God’s children. It is only in this world that people are identified by their physical structures, whether men or women. We have to extensively explore the role of women in God’s Church. Some Church congregations still consider women as less competent to occupy leadership positions.
The starting point is to appreciate that in God’s church leadership is vested in Jesus, leaving no one to superintend over others. Matthew 23:8-12 shows that none of Jesus’ followers can superintend over others. How does Jesus lead when not physically present? Church business is about service so that each member is spiritually spurred to serve, in whatever capacity one feels inspired. Everything is evaluated according to Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus dwells in every member of His Church. Spiritually, Jesus performs any responsibility according to His will. In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, Paul shows how the Spirit grants responsibility to members. Of importance is that Jesus exercises responsibility through whoever He chooses to use. A careful analysis shows that there cannot be any fight over positions. None of those positions depicts promotion, except that Jesus would be responsible.
The role of Christians is to submit to Him, without reservations, or questioning the credentials of the person used. This implies that one cannot be everything, subjecting the rest of the members to become spectators. When one is able to analyze the Scriptures, to understand what others cannot understand, one cannot take credit, except for Christ, using that person.
The rest of the members can only adopt the truth and thank God for revealing it, regardless of the person used. The same applies to any other function, in God’s Church. But, why did Jesus select twelve men, without even one woman, among those, later to be called apostles? There could not have been any reason, except for culture, possibly, playing its role.
Jesus could not have caused unnecessary problems, in the formative years of His ministry. Imagine having to travel with women most of the time. At one point Jesus revealed that in Heaven personalities are not identified by gender, affecting those of this world. The women, who opted to follow Him, were different from those conscripted to be His apostles.
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven”(Matthew 22:29-30 NIV).
In this world, everything goes according to timing. This is why, after healing some lepers Jesus asked them to follow the tradition of showing themselves to the priests (Luke 17:14). Jesus observed most of the Jewish traditions, to avoid unnecessarily offending anyone, in the process, except teaching, where necessary. But the truth is that in God’s Church there are no gender or class considerations.
“So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NIV).
Paul issued some instructions concerning the behaviour of women in some congregations. However, when carefully studying those Scriptures, one observes that this was driven by the desire to address cultural issues, causing problems. These had nothing to do with the gospel. The Corinthian group had a problem of being stuck on human traditions. Paul said they were Christian babies in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35 NIV).
There are distinctions between cultural issues and Christ’s teachings. These depend on racial, tribal or regional considerations. For instance, the English culture requires that everyone stands, as long as the honourable person is standing. In our African culture, everyone sits, as long as an honourable person stands.
However, Paul could not have said there was neither male nor female, according to Galatians 3:28. Hence, in applying Christian principles, the same Paul stated: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
Gender cannot be considered, among those having become God’s children. Those of this world consider women differently. In Jesus, those of this world saw a male individual. However, Jesus was none of those things. Jesus may have had sexual feelings, but able to control them.
His condition of being human and appearing as a male was in apparent form, rather than reality. What people saw in Jesus was an ordinary human, emerging from Nazareth. However, Jesus had little to do with His human appearance. Similarly, when one becomes God’s child he/she would be nothing of those things that people perceive him/her as.
Paul’s teaching about sex and marriage in the seventh chapter of the book of Corinthians is directed to those still feeding on milk. This is why in the second verse he states: “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”
That statement is not directed at those appreciating being God’s children. Paul is attempting to control the immoral behaviour of Christians, still stuck on their physical nature. Clearly, most of those people professed to have been converted but were still attracted to their old ways of living. The same applies to most people, although identified as Christians today.
Paul signified surrendering to God, clarifying matters of truth: “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” In other words, Paul is not advocating for divorce, in the event that the person would have been married when called by God.
Paul’s teaching on sexual matters was driven by immorality, affecting the Corinthians. One can be caught up in those stupid conducts, even though with God’s Spirit. To some, it takes a huge amount of spiritual development before one can be freed from physical persuasions.
God’s patience remains, as long as the person is honest, even in his/her failings. In His teaching on sexual matters, Paul even tried to use himself as a standard, seeking to encourage the weak people. Nevertheless, Jesus was the standard. While Jesus may have had sexual desires, considering His humanity, those feelings could not have overcome Him.
In short, God’s child is not affected by physical desires. But as one living in the body, one may be subjected to the fulfilment of physical requirements. That person still feels hungry and feels cold in freezing weather, including all other physical needs. Nevertheless, human nature, itself, is sinful, which, Paul clarified in his epistle to the Galatians.
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”(Galatians 5:17-21 NIV).
Unlike the Jews who, at least, had the law, governing their moral conduct, those of Gentile origin had nothing to fall back on. Things that were abnormal were accepted as normal. Any abnormal form of conduct can be accepted as normal, in this world, when the opposite is true. The physical body is animalistic, as sustained by the philosophy of self-centeredness.
A person ceases to be either feminine or masculine after becoming God’s child. Physical stamina can no longer be a force to reckon with if exercising authority. For instance, when granted a gift of leadership a woman cannot feel incapacitated by her feminine stature. Masculinity is not what determines the ability of any person.
The physical body of Jesus may have been as weak as that of a woman. This could have been what caused some people to doubt His authority. Paul was not as eloquent as some people might suppose him to have been when considering the vast amount of work that he conducted.
“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power”(1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV).
Apollos was one of those renowned as having been highly effective in preaching. As popular as Apollos was, during his time, nothing from him motivates those of our time, as Paul’s works do. This should not be interpreted as evaluating the capacity of God’s people. This is just to show that God’s work cannot be evaluated according to physical appearance.
There was nothing spectacular about Jesus, as far as His physical appearance was concerned. As an ordinary individual, who was raised in the degraded city of Nazareth, Jesus could not attract impact. Even the miracles that Jesus performed, although having attracted huge crowds, did not have an impact, on people’s repentance.
In this world, people are attracted by charisma, stamina, miracles and freebies, more than the truth. Jesus attracted many people by performing healing miracles. But that did not amount to conversion, for the majority of those people. Most people considered Jesus as not deserving of a leadership position, possibly, judged by His physical appearance.
“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”(John 5:41-44 NIV).
Jesus shows that He was dealing with people who considered personalities according to human approval, rather than God’s truth. This is the only reason why most people unknowingly vote for criminals to take up leadership positions. It is a question of whether your personality is a crowd-puller or not. Approval is based on public perception, rather than truth.
An unapproved personality can quote Scriptures to show his authenticity, proving having been sent by God. But all that counts to nothing, as ordinary people are not interested in what God says, but what those they approve say. Women are among those invalidated and considered inferior to men.
Throughout the ages, it has taken a few women to stand up projecting their true calling. The rest of the women consider themselves as having been created to bear children. It is true that in the physical sphere, women are for bearing children and supporting their husbands. But the Christian calling invalidates that and puts women on an equal footing with men.
Some Christian denominations have what is taunted as “women’s ministry.” I suppose that is as acceptable as catering for the physical needs of those women. However, when considering the significance of those having become God’s children; that pattern cannot be projected, anymore.
Those women are not different from their male counterparts. This is not even what should be viewed according to the hyped gender equality consideration throughout the world. We know of cases where positions are reserved for women to promote gender equality, for instance.
In God’s Church, there cannot be gender considerations. All are equal, but projecting what God calls each of them to be. Christ manifests in their lives, whether they would be women, physically crippled, black or white, charismatic, educated or not educated. Unless all the physical considerations are shelved, the truth remains obscure to most Christians.
In a caustic environment, women cannot freely exercise their God-given abilities, due to their femininity. However, when aware that after baptism one becomes a new creation that consideration falls off. It would no longer be the person, but Christ living in that person. In Christ, women can never be intimidated to do whatever responsibility for which God has called them.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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