Archives for the month of: March, 2012

We cannot be the ‘image of God,’ either at the ecclesiological or the anthropological level,

unless we are incorporated in the original and only authentic image of the Father,

which is the Son of God incarnate. ~John Zizioulas

          I’ve been reflecting on some of the books that I read in high school on women’s roles. I feel like a volcano… there are so many thoughts swirling in my head that I think I must explode onto paper…

Fascinating Womanhood. It was recommended by a dear friend and we fell in love with it and the principles presented therein together. The basic premise: men live in constant insecurity and need for affirmation. Women exist to bolster male self-esteem and encourage male petulance despite ourselves. Through our endless exhortation and overlooking of faults, women might help their men to develop into the persons of character that they were intended by God to be.

The profound and glaring problem with this equation is the disgusting dishonesty of it. Relationships are intended for our sanctification. Women and men to do not exist or function to soothe one another and make each other feel superior than we truly are. We are the iron sharpening each other.

We have the world, the flesh and the devil to lie to us. We don’t need our spouses to do that.

But the rub is that if we embrace being honest with our coheirs, we must likewise embrace their ability to be honest and confrontational with us. Why is that part of the bargain? Why can’t I just spew my perspective on you without hearing your sanctifying reproach for me?

Are women really supposed to be “free of the burden” of providing loving accountability and chastisement in the lives of their husbands? We discuss secondary issues like “exercising authority” more than we exhort each other to SERVICE and edification.

Why? There are a plethora of reasons why we avoid big, tough, ugly issues and stick to secondary ones instead. It occurred to me that one of these reasons is good old-fashioned slothfulness.

Sloth is a dark sin. It is idly living for yourself and precludes passivity, lethargy, and profound laziness.

The truth is that not many of desire to be teachers, knowing that we will incur a greater condemnation. Responsibility is tough and it is so much easier to siphon it off onto someone else. In the example of Fascinating Womanhood, gender is just an excuse that allows women off the hook of marital accountability. Women, do not settle for the role of mothering your man. Do not settle for becoming his plaything either. Do not serve him so unwell as to leave him at his present place of growth and challenge him no further. Do not resign yourself to sloth.

I write this to myself, as I continue to press toward a theology of marital relationship. You cannot keep growing in love for each other when you are lost in triviality. You will reach a point where you plateau. We are nobler people than that. Together, in union with each other and Christ, we must live up to our nobility.

Nor can you sustain a relationship at an existential level of such heights that you lose touch with reality. You reach a point where you peak and cannot get down again. We are more human people than that. Together, in union with each other and Christ, we must live into our humanity.

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset mentioned incidentally in class that the greatest eros springs from intellectual admiration. Eros is desire… the sacred devotion that seek out the noble and gives itself for the benefit of the other. True women will pursue men of intellect, strength, devotion, and complex sexuality. True men will pursue women of the same guild. And from the “marriage of true minds” a love will spring that “bears it out even to the edge of doom” (William Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI).

          Thank you, Meghan Bolger and Krista Ziebarth, for allowing me to spew these disjointed thoughts to you for three successive hours today. You spared me from tragic, spontaneous, internal combustion.

Yours devotedly,

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way,

and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless

until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Frank Viola: “God’s View of a Woman”

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the Eternal Son, the Messiah—the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years. The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed.

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord’s view of a woman. Take your high place.

But that’s not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed.

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John Chapter 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples. He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed…

But that’s not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin. He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets—a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling.
In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed.

In the Lord’s last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the twelve disciples with the shorthand phrase the Twelve. The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere. But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them the Women (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used the Twelve.  They were the Lord’s disciples also—the female counterpart to the Twelve. The Women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But there’s more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the Women. The reason? Because they were more faithful. When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. They said, “See ya!” But the Women stayed with Him. They didn’t leave. They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along—comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours. To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Following His death, it was the Women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him. And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met—the first eyes that were laid upon Him—were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

On the day of Pentecost, the Women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve.
Unlike His male disciples, the Women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed.

Throughout the Lord’s life, it was the Women who tended to His physical needs. It was the Women who looked after Him. It was the Women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3). It was the Women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The Women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed.

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you—a woman to depict that which He came to earth to die for—His very Bride. And He is not ashamed.

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Brothers, honor your sisters in the Kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn’t take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side.

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the Kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed.

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin.

So sisters, take your high place . . . this is God’s view of you.

Radical serves as a call to action for a church lost in the chaos of American materialism… David Platt’s words serve as a rude awakening: “We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to make the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.  A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.”  In the very first chapter, Platt calls us to a life of complete abandonment to Someone worth losing everything for.  Throughout the book he continues on that theme, providing real life examples and suggestions for action.  Platt describes the persecuted and underground Church as being hungry and desperate for God’s word, busy about their Lord’s work, and passionately risking everything for the beliefs they hold to.  Platt encourages global missions, saying that one should devote 2 weeks a year to short-term mission trips.  Some people may disagree with his approach, saying that ministering to your surrounding area demands as much praise or that short-term missions can do more harm than good.  While emphasis on both global and local missions should be balanced, Platt’s main argument remains sound: the American Church needs to lose it’s unhealthy addiction to materialism and focus more on the Great Commission.  Radical abandonment to the follower of Christ means going out into the world and making disciples of all mankind.

Radical is a passionate book, and it deserves a passionate response.  The emotion it most instilled in me was excitement.  I was ecstatic that a writer had vocalized a belief that I was slowly coming to on my own.  Platt explained clearly and succinctly his goal: spreading the Gospel regardless of your own personal risk, in whatever form it may take.  Radical left me with the knowledge of my failure to live up to my potential in Christ and the determination to change what was inhibiting my spiritual growth.

~Meghan Bolger, contributor

Please find this article by Adam McHugh here.

 

When my wife was young she and her mom, they’d sing.

Sing this “Fruit of the Spirit” song at bedtime:

“Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-controoOool!”

I know this because every now and then, when she’s really sleepy, my wife will break out the song when we’re going to bed.

I have even heard myself singing along with her on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, we usually laugh so hard in those moments that it’s counterproductive to sleeping.

I didn’t grow up singing this song – though for some reason, as a four-year-old I fancied the chorus of “It’s Raining Men” – but I am grateful that my wife did because it has drawn my attention to that scripture in recent weeks.

It was a child’s song that renewed me in my assurance of God’s love and in the hope that He is working through me when I am myself.

Over the holidays I saw an old college friend at a party.

We were at one of those co-ed baby showers that have come into vogue, and that men are eagerly awaiting for people to get over.

This friend and I had ample time to catch up while others were rubbing the mom-to-be’s belly and taking baby quizzes and putting chocolate pudding in diapers.

In some ways he and I have a lot in common. We attended the same college, are both pastors in southern California, both care deeply about the mission of the Church.

But our personalities are polar opposite. He is incredibly extroverted and charismatic and magnetic; he is one of those people that changes the energy of a room when he walks into it. People are immediately drawn to him and he can turn a stranger into a friend faster than I can drive away from a co-ed baby shower. He can have a conversation about anything with anyone. He is the guy who knows ALL his neighbors, to the point that one passerby once speculated that he was a mafia kingpin.

I, on the other hand, am the classic introvert, the one who starts out quiet in new settings and gets quieter. I like people, but conversation, it can wear me out. I have several close friends but I am not terribly motivated to make conversation with people I don’t know well. I have a good sense of humor, but mostly because I sit around by myself a lot thinking of funny things to say. I will often choose reading a book over a group activity.

I have mostly come to terms with my personality, and I have even written a whole book to help introverts navigate the life of the church. But that encounter with my old friend resurfaced some of the feelings I had in my younger days: wondering whether something was wrong with me or whether introverts are spiritually inadequate?

Is God not as pleased with me when I choose solitude over conversation? Am I a bad witness to the gospel?

That last question has been particularly painful for me in the past, when nonbelievers would praise my extrovert-dynamo friend as “someone who really lives out what he believes,” by which they often meant that he was friendly and warm and outgoing.

It’s hard not to hear a subtle jab thrown my way in those conversations, with the subtext “You’re quiet and guarded and you are not a good example of your faith.”

I was left to wonder, in the privacy of my room on those nights, if my introversion contradicted the welcome that God extends to all people.

It’s hard enough when people in the church criticize introverts as unfaithful or closed, but it is extra painful when nonbelievers consider believing introverts to be bad models of faith, even to be turned off to the gospel because of our temperaments.

In the days following my reunion with my friend, I again agonized over these questions.

But my wife’s fruit of the Spirit song spoke truth. It played through my head one afternoon, perhaps was put in my head, and I remembered that “extrovertedness” is not a fruit of the Spirit.

Paul doesn’t say that the internal work of God will produce love, joy, peace, patience, and gregariousness.

People are born with different temperaments, which is all part of God’s rich and beautiful design for His body, but kindness is what we’re all called to.

Kindness is what God is working in us through the implanted seed of the gospel.

Of course, extroversion is a wonderful quality, but some people have it and some people don’t. No matter what our temperaments, however, kindness is to be our stance before people.

The apostle Paul uses the word kindness a few times to describe God’s action in sending a Savior and showing mercy to humankind.

To be kind then, is to show people mercy. Kindness will extend itself beyond our tribes to help and support and listen to people in need.

And for introverts, this will happen one person at a time, one step at a time, one small risk at a time.

Paul also says that God’s kindness is what leads people to repentance.

Being outgoing, in some cases, may get people to the door — but kindness is what draws people in to eat with the Savior.

To gather round a table and eat with the Body, stay up late, singing songs and laughing, those fruits of the Spirit hanging low and close….”

 

Adam McHugh, pastor, chaplain, and author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, here is an article by Jim Henderson in RelevantMagazine.com

Jesus often gave women a platform. Why doesn’t the rest of the Church?

Jesus didn’t have favorites, but … He did play favorites.

At least that’s the impression an uninitiated reader of the Bible could get. In general, Jesus seemed tough on Jewish insiders and soft on heathen outsiders. However, when it came to women—He basically liked them all.

Just think of the Samaritan woman; the foreign woman who begged for the crumbs off the table; the woman caught in the act of adultery; the woman who prostrated herself at His feet, kissing them and washing them with her tears before letting down her hair to dry them; Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary; the women who stood by Him when He was crucified while the men hid; Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus first appeared after the Resurrection. He seemed to be drawn to women’s authenticity, loyalty and openness to God, regardless of their beliefs or nonbeliefs.

What’s interesting is that Jesus not only honored and protected women (a traditional role), He also provided them with a platform from which they could expand their influence (a countercultural role). As scriptural screenwriter-in-chief, the Holy Spirit chose to cast many women in the lead supporting actor role of the Gospel stories. This was because the star of the show (aka, Jesus) was quite comfortable working with and alongside women.

It’s a fact that Jesus did not choose a woman to be one of the Twelve, but it’s just as true that He did not choose a man to be the first person to witness and announce His Resurrection. It’s also a fact that no women were included in the inner circle of three who were present with Him at Gethsemane and the Transfiguration, but it’s just as true that no women followers bear the shame of having denied Jesus publicly.

The Spiritual Exodus of Women

How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping and forming a spiritual community but were denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the Church, Christianity and in some cases God.

Many women are discouraged. And while some of them, particularly young women, leave the organized church only, others walk away from the faith altogether. In fact, in 2010 the Barna Group found that 26 percent of Americans have changed faiths or adopted a significantly different faith view during their lifetimes. Barna released its study just after the author Anne Rice famously renounced Christianity on her Facebook page. According to Barna, Rice “shares a spiritual profile with nearly 60 million other adults nationwide,” most of whom, the research found, are women. Since breaking with the Catholic church, Rice has publicly reaffirmed her commitment to Christ several times; however, Barna’s report notes, “The most common type of spiritual shift was from those who were Christian, Protestant or Catholic in childhood to those who currently report being atheist, agnostic or some other faith. In total, this group represents about one out of every eight adults (12%), a category that might be described as ex-Christians.” Disillusionment with their church and religion was cited as one of the top reasons people gave for leaving their faith.

But for many women (particularly wives and mothers), leaving doesn’t mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present. Women often do this because they want their husbands and children to grow spiritually. They participate at the minimal levels and give just enough to ensure their families are included, even if the women are not growing themselves. They seem to be masters at finding ways to feed themselves without requiring as much from the place they call church.

Doctrinal Division

There’s a lot of confusion among both men and women about what the Bible does or does not say about the role of women in the Church. Women struggle (often in private) trying to determine whether their churches’ positions on women’s roles are genuinely God’s ideal or simply a reflection of dogmatic conditioning and cultural bias. The most ardent students of the Bible on both sides tend to be the ones who are most certain their view of the biblical role of women is the correct one.

Given the polarization, it’s dismaying how uninterested Christians seem to be in trying to understand why their brothers and sisters can read the same biblical passages and come to opposite conclusions. We need to learn how to stay in the room with differences and not “break up” over every biblical disagreement.

We need to start a new conversation about women and Church. At the very least, Christians need to think more honestly about these issues. There is room to grow and new things to discover about how God wants to use women to move His Kingdom forward. That’s why it’s important to to read, ponder and think most deeply about the things that cause disagreement. Not to win but to learn. We need to stop comparing our best with others’ worst. We need to stop criticizing each other and open our own ideas to critique.

My bias is that, just like men, women should have as much influence as they’re capable of exercising in the Church. But my opinion, regardless of how deeply held it may be, doesn’t give me permission to ignore, dismiss or demean those who disagree with me. And it especially doesn’t give me an excuse to be mean. Jesus told us to love one another—not to agree with one another.

Celebrating Women

Evangelicals are passionate about personal sin—swearing, adultery, gossip, drunkenness, lust, anger and so on. They have significantly less interest in systemic sin—racism, greed, selfishness and repression of women. This low view of systemic sin, this privileged paradigm of power, makes it easy to ignore the way women are treated in Church.

I recall once hearing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman put it this way: “Those with power never think about it, but those without power think about it all the time.”

But the worst thing is millions of women have given up protesting, given up trying to move forward, and allowed themselves to be convinced that they aren’t and shouldn’t want to be men’s equals in the Church that dares to name itself after one of history’s most radical advocates for women—Jesus of Nazareth.

Take a closer look at the women who will be and are currently part of your community. Listen—really listen—to them. And more important, consider the radical way Jesus related to women in a culture that sought to shut them down, curtail them and control them.

Taken from Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? by Jim Henderson. Copyright © 2012 by Jim Henderson. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jacqueline Gardner just pressed a piece entitled “Hold My Breath: Unoriginal Thoughts on Singleness”. It is a worth-while read on a topic that has been on my mind recently.

This past weekend I went to go visit a friend and her younger (single) sister asked, “How do you like being married?” My enthusiastic response was “Oh, marriage is wonderful!”

As the visit progressed she told us about how she (as an 18 year old) is quitting college and going to marry a very young enlisted man who is still in training and is being relocated every six months or so. Her parents and family are not thrilled. All of a sudden, I felt so guilty for saying “Marriage is wonderful!” It was a misleading statement to make to this poor girl.

Marriage is about a relationship. It isn’t a propositional idea. “Marriage = wonderful” is a bogus equation. It would have been true for me to say that “being married to my husband is wonderful” because ultimately, that is what makes it wonderful: the person you are married to. The relationship is wonderful. Not the propositional, abstract idea of “marriage”.

John Zizioulas is an Eastern Orthodox theologian who has developed a theology of personhood rooted in the idea that full humanity is achieved only as person participates (koinonia) in the Trinitarian life of God. Just as God defines Himself relationally (as three person in eternal, relational community), human beings are most fully actualized when living in relationship. It was Descarte’s idea that ‘I think, therefore I am’ that produced a culture saturated with individualized, independent existential thinking. In Descarte’s proposition, our being is divorced from relationship. Zizioulas attempts to move beyond Catesian self-centeredness by presupposing that the self is a gift, given by love: ‘I am loved, therefore I am’. He writes, “Being is a gift of the Other, and it is this very gift that constitutes love; if love does not grant or cause a unique identity, it is not true love; it is self-love, a sort of narcissism in disguise.”

I am loved, therefore I am. As both unmarried and married persons, our being, existence, and unique identity is established by the fact that we are loved. Being loved graces us with a matchless identity. And as both unmarried and married persons participating in the life and love of God, we are being filled up and completed.

Too many girls have heard “marriage” talked about as an abstraction and something to pursue for its own sake. Marriage, however, is just as unfulfilling as singleness if it is just another state-of-being.

Fulfillment is found in RELATIONSHIP, and singles have JUST AS MUCH access to relationship as marrieds do. Sometimes they have more access. Or perhaps I ought to say, they have different access.

Does this make any sense??

I looked at the young girl across the room from me and part of me wanted to scream, “I’m sorry!! I take that back!! Marriage is wonderful because relationships are wonderful! Marriage is wonderful for ME, because I’m married to Jacob Quick, and he is a sacrificial servant, not the kind of guy who will chase after his own aspirations and leave me in the dust. Marriage is wonderful because I’m a mature person who has taken years to develop my mind and a network of friends. Marriage is wonderful because both of us participate in relationships with the Lord.”

And the other part of me wondered, what if I had turned around and asked her, ‘How do you like being single?’ What would she have said? Because if being relational as a single person is not fulfilling for her, then being relational as a married person probably won’t be either.

So I am calling a personal moratorium on irresponsible descriptions of marriage. Too many girls are listening to the jargon that “marriage is wonderful” and what they hear is “marriage is the magic wand that makes life fulfilling”. That’s why I loved Jacqueline’s article. She was trying to say to these poor misled girls, “Ummm, start living NOW. Relationships are for NOW.”

John Zizioulas goes on to say that “The beloved one is unique because he or she is the beloved of someone, his or her beloved one. This is the only identity that makes him or her unique; it is a relational identity (cf. Mt. 3:17 and parallels; Jn. 1:18: ‘beloved; and ‘unique’ combined with the possessive ‘my’). Beings exist as particular, therefore, only as gifts of the Other, who grants them an identity by establishing a unique relation with them.” Be the beloved one. Accept the gift of your personhood from the Lord, and give the gift of your distinctive love to those around you… to those who are already here. Don’t wait for the elusive “married” state-of-being to be a real person.

Disclaimer (what post would be complete without a disclaimer?): please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I do believe that marriage relationships are amazing… it’s just that the word to highlight is RELATIONSHIPS. Not marriage. I feel like Christians have got it backwards. And the way in which we have gotten it backwards has left singles in the dust and has produced a lot of disappointed married people (who really thought they were getting something other than another relationship to sacrifice themselves in).

What are your thoughts? Do you think that we have divorced the idea of marriage from relationship by talking about it abstractly? What can we do to cultivate the identity of single and married people through relationship?

“My prayer for us this year is simply that we find frustration in the taking,

contentment in the receiving, and supreme satisfaction in the giving.”

~Jacqueline Gardner

~Annie Bolger Quick, editor