Sunday, May 29, 2016

Part 2: She - Women in Ministry

Part 2: She - Women in Ministry

When was the last time you saw a mother living out her maternal drive?

How has your experience with your mother shaped your perception of God?

Throughout the Bible, God (YHWH) is described as compassionate. In Hebrew, the original language of the Scriptures, it’s the word ‘raham.’ It’s also the word for ‘womb.’ So God is compassionate, does this means God is womb-like?

The gentleman piped up saying, “Wait! God doesn't have a womb!”

I said, “Please, fully listen to me and I will explain.”

 The image presents a feminine side of God’s being. When you hear that God is compassionate, what stories come to mind?

For me, it reminds me of Job. Listen to the Scripture; God asked Job “And does the rain have a father? Who sires the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? And who gives birth to the sky’s pale, thick frost?” Job 38:28-29 (Message)

Obviously, this is Hebrew poetry, so it is hard to take it literally. But, these images can be very helpful in describing the divine, but Jesus said that God (YHWH) is a Spirit. And spirit has no shape, it has no form, it has no physical essence as we understand existence. We are corporeal beings created in the image of God as God’s image bearers.

Here is what I mean, God is in essence beyond male and female. Or perhaps you could say it more accurately; God transcends and yet includes what we know both as male and female. “God created us human beings; he created us godlike, reflecting God's nature. He created us male and female.” Genesis 1:27

A man is the image of God, just as a woman is the image of God.

Do you think of God as male or female?

Why do you believe you view God this way? We have been trained, indoctrinated to see God from a patriarchal cultural perspective. The Scripture clearly teaches there is a masculine dimension to God, and there is a feminine aspect of God. Holistically, God transcends both male and female within God’s being. We know because as the image bearers we represent the characteristic of the divine.

The early Christian church was revolutionary in following the example of Jesus, the Anointed one. Women were the first witnesses to the resurrection, even though their testimony is considered of less value than a man's culturally, which was groundbreaking enough in its day. Let me say it again; women were honored as the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, the Anointed One. This is a sign of God (YHWH) creating a paradigm shift or corrective shift in all cultures and societies. A move back towards the garden where Adam and Eve walked side by side communing with Elohim/YHWH in the cool of the evening.

Consider this; it was women who supported Jesus in his teaching and traveling throughout his ministry. Women helped pay for his journies. In the letter to Galatians, the Apostle Paul writes that in Christ, in this new reality of the resurrected Jesus, the Anointed One –  

“In Christ’s family, there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us, you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:28 (MSG)

Many scholars argue this is the first place in human history where somebody argued for the equality of sexes. It was the Apostle Paul, the person whom you use to try to establish the complementarian view of the women, and here Paul confirms the egalitarian position of the sexes.

If you don’t grasp the full understanding of God’s being, transcending beyond what is male and female, then you miss out on God’s leadership, you won’t have God’s full wisdom, his/her voice, his/her perspective. You’re not just missing her; you’re missing something central to the very core of God’s characteristics.

How does your view of women affect your view of God?

How does your perspective of God affect your view of women?

I always say flip your questions around to force yourself to challenge your opinion. You may just discover something remarkable through this critical thinking exercise.

A woman should not be made to feel like a second-class member of the Jesus movement; maybe it has been taught to you blatantly, or it has been picked it up subtly, either way, it is just not right. It is not the Jesus’ way because it’s not what Jesus had in mind. Sometimes equality gets confused with a difference, as if we are all the same, and what gets lost in the process is the uniqueness of each of us being who we were made to be the unique image bearers of the living and loving God.

So we don’t need to run from the differences, we should embrace them. It’s all a reflection of the creativity, of the diversity, of the variety of the God who’s larger than any of our language.

In the book of Isaiah, he speaks to the Israelites who are in exile:

The Lord, your God, says: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13 (TNIV). Of all the images Isaiah could use, Isaiah essentially says to them, have you ever seen a mother comfort a child? Yes, that is God-like, it is so divine.

When was the last time that you needed comfort?

When the difficult times come, would you trust God to comfort you?

When you see a mother doing her mom thing, when a mother’s heart breaks for her children, she is tapping into the very nature of who God is and what God is like and that is a gift. It is grace; it is divine.

Have you ever considered God to be like a mother? Why or why not? For those who have not had a real mother figure, maybe this will assist in your healing as you connect with this aspect of God’s being and character.

Is your view of God limited by a gender?

If so, do you think maybe you are missing out on the aspects of God’s nature and move deeper into a relationship with Jesus, the Christ?

Now may you embrace God, who’s larger than any of our concepts of what is male or female. May you celebrate all of the images and pictures and metaphors that help us better understand who and what God is like beyond gender.


Dr. Douglas Balzer

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