The Word and Wisdom Incarnate: Part Two


This post is a follow up on previous post. In the post last week, we studied how the Old Testament and the New Testament presents a gracious loving God. This post, however, pursues a side note that most would not see in this post.

One of the interesting parts of those passages is that Jesus is compared to a female metaphor. This would raise questions about the value of Jesus’ biological maleness. Jesus came as a biological male, but His divinity is sexless. Though his humanity must have a sex, it carries no weight in relation to His divine non-gender. This is a profound concept. In this thought, Jesus transcends the cultural values and God’s attributes are what define the “male.” One of the major problems in the Church today is the assumption of the maleness of Christ and his Church. The problem these verses create is the reality that Jesus was put into a feminine reality. This also contends with the idea that men represent the god head in authority.

Here is the major question: If male was to be the channel of primary authority in creation, why did Christ in his male biology take a position of a feminine metaphor?

If Christ and the Early Church was so concerned about this issue, they would have attempted to cover up this issue and keep with only masculine forms of wisdom. One way would be to only have King references in connection with wisdom. But the New Testament does not take the approach of hiding feminine influence. In many ways, including this one, the New Testament is very feminine. We must consider the ramifications of a single savior whose existence puts no real weight on His human gender in relation to the practices of His day.

What is your view of Jesus? Is he all male? Or does He transcend gender? What does your assumption mean for your life?

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Important Women in the Bible (and In Ministry!!!)


This here is a list of important women in the Scriptures. I know its odd for a man to be doing this, but nonetheless, I think it is important to remember the role women have played in the formation of the Christian Faith and our Scriptures and what that means for our future.

  1. Eve – This women was said to have been made from Adam (funny that this puts Adam in a pseudo-giving-birth situation). It is odd that her most noticeable achievement is giving the forbidden fruit to Adam, but we tend to forget that she too walked with God as the man/Adam did in the creation narratives. All the great things the man did, she did too. In the end, she is held just as responsible as Adam in all things. She is also the one to start off humanity with the first baby. That is an amazing accomplishment. (Genesis 1-4)
  2. Mariam (Aaron’s Wife) – Not many people recognize this lady, but she was a Jewish woman and was with Aaron most of the way through the desert. She even led the community (the first worship leader?) in a song/hymn of praising God. She was considered sent by God in the same way that Moses and Aaron were called. (Exodus 15 & Micah 6:4)
  3. Deborah – Judge and Prophet. She was a fierce women that everyone seemed to know as filled with the Spirit. She was the leader of her tribe, but more than that, she spoke the will of God to those around her, even Barak, a male general. Although most would be scared of seeing a woman with a weapon at her hip, she wielded it with wisdom and praise towards God. (Judges 4-5; cf. Numbers 11 & Deuteronomy 16, it seems that in some cases Elders and Judges are interchangeable)
  4. Ruth – A daring woman who took chances. She was a foreigner who stuck with her Israelite mother, even though the Israelites would despise her. She also had no male to take care of her. Eventually, she meets a man that would take here and her family of just women in, but not without out some provocative and scandalous action on her part. (Ruth)
  5. Huldah – This is a woman that almost none of you have heard of. She was a prophet during the time of Josiah, the great reformer King. She was married, so she had a husband “over her.” The King has the priest and a group of men to ask her for advice after panicking, a result of them reading the lost Law (might be Deuteronomy) and thinking God was going to destroy them. Her oracle has been recorded in Scriptures. As a side note, one must remember that Josiah cleanses Israel, but allows a woman to remain the prophet of God, a leader who spreads the words of God. I just find that fascinating (2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:14-28).
  6. Esther – Esther finds herself a small town girl, living in a kingly world. She gets married to the King, finds out her people are in trouble, and performs the most daring plan to save them. She even gets a lucky break when the antagonist of the story performs one fatal mistake, arousing the anger of the king.
  7. Mary (Mother of Jesus) – The mother of Jesus. She raised the Christ Child. Through Jesus life, ministry, and even at His death, Mary keeps popping up in the story. There is something special about this woman. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts 1-2)
  8. Mary Magdalene – This woman is just everywhere in the story. She seems to be a close follower of Jesus, like the male disciples. She also seems to serve the role of a patron, supplying Jesus and His followers with the basic life needs for the ministry.(Matthew 27:36, 27:61, 28:1; Mark 15:40, 15:47, 16:1; Luke 8:2, 24:10; John 19:25, 20:1, 20:18)
  9. Tabitha – This women was an important woman in the Church of Joppa. She passed away while the apostle Peter was visiting. The believers were so distraught from Tabitha’s death that they begged Peter to come. Peter prayed, she resurrected, and she kept doing what she always had done. (Acts 9:36-42)
  10. Priscilla – In Athens, Priscilla is mentioned after the discussion with the philosophers. She mentioned as part as her husbands house in chapter 18:2, but the next mention in chapter 18, her name is before the husband’s. They meet up with an excellent teacher named Apollos. Both Priscilla and her husband take in Apollos and teach him further of the way of God. The next you hear of these two is at the end of Romans. Oh, and every since Acts 18 her name comes before husbands. This was a very important woman. (Acts 18; Romans 16:3)
  11. Phoebe – She is the first name in Romans 16. She is “commended” to the Roman believers. Why? She is delivering the letter and will read it to the congregation. A note, the word for her position is deacon, not deaconess. The same word is found in describing Christ in 15:8. This is very key in understanding women in Acts. (Romans 16:3; cf. Romans 15:8)
  12. Junia – This lady’s name and status in the Church is always a topic for debate. Some say she is actually a he and that his name is Junias. Unfortuantely, there is no evidence of this. Also, they say that she was revered BY the Apostles. However, the preposition does not designate that concept. It designates being AMONG the Apostles. So guess what folks, we had a female Apostle. Just amazing.

Although it seems arbitrary, the mention of women and the roles they played in the Scriptures are crucial to understanding the roles they should play today. We should ask questions as the conversation of complementarianism and egalitarianism is still in process. One day we will come to the other side of that conversation. In my opinion, we will challenge the language of both sides and come to a third way of understanding it.

But I digress,

because I’m working on publishing something that has to do with that.

Sorry, I don’t do spoilers.

But I will say this…Women, rise up and sing with your lives and leadership. Live your servanthood as men have done in following Christ. And love all as Christ does his Church.

Grace and peace to you all.

Pastors, Leaders, and the Ego


A little while back I heard a sermon with the topic calling Christians to be pastors and leaders of churches. The sermon had much truth in it, but one particular point did bring up questions about Christianity and the Church. The speaker had the pastors and those called to be pastors called on stage. It was an interesting move and I was intrigued to see where he went with it. He proceeded to say that even though all of us are saved and had our place in the Kingdom to serve, it was the men and women on the stage that were part of a deeper calling.

In a sense, I got it.

They have a different role.

But I can’t help but wonder if there is an undercurrent of clergy versus laymen sneaking into the Churches. So let’s explore what is the Biblical view of leading roles in the church.

Pastor:

In looking for the word pastor, I only found one. Ephesians 4:11. I thought it was odd that it only found in the NLT once, so I looked it in greek. To my surprise, the word only means Shepherd, which is used many times in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. Pastors are merely watching the flock. Making sure the sheep/people are taken care of. It’s an important role for now while the Great Shepherd is gone, but more on that in a second since it ties in with another role.

Preachers

You might be asking why I am mentioning something generally attributed to pastors, but the New Testament has a more wide open tradition than the Church today.

The word preacher is found 1 Timothy 2:7 and 2 Timothy 1:11 in the english. The greek uses a word that is a term for an official herald or a public announcer (sometimes of a divine being). Paul says that he is God’s herald in these cases, though he say that it is only because God gave it to him. He reflects a person who is lowering himself to being under a more important being and cause.

This word is used many times for people who proclaim things. The high value proclamation in the New Testament is about the Good News that God is still working out a good plan for the world He created. That is something that all Christians are commanded to do.

Some translations have the term in 1 Corinthians 8:18. Although the word itself is not there in the greek, the idea of proclaiming the Good News is there.

It makes sense that preaching is not a limited activity by leaders in the Church, but by all of God’s children.

Elders:

I know some people from some traditions use this position. Trust me, I am not wanting you to deconstruct and trash your traditions, but to see them with a good light. Elders are from the word we get Episcopal from. In the greek, it can mean a position of responsibility or oversight. It is seen mostly in I Timothy 3:1-2, 5:19, Titus 1:6, and 1 Peter 5:1-4.

The important passage for my purposes 1 Peter. It starts with the term for Elders. So we recognize that there are Elders in the New Testament on some level.

However, the Greek muddles up a couple roles. Peter starts talking about shepherding and the Great Shepherd. Sound familiar? Look back to the Pastor section.

Which is it?

I think it’s safe to say that there is not one position over the other, nor is there a differentiation in Peter’s eyes. Pastor is shepherd is elder. What is the most important part is that Peter says they are going to see the Great Shepherd revealed one day(look ahead to Revelation). When that happens, there will be no other shepherd worthy of mention. No name above that name of Jesus.

Deacons

This is another position that some denominations use. Once again, I am not saying ditch your tradition, but keep trying to see it in a good light.

What is a deacon? That is something that you could get a million answers to. One thing that is definitely true is that the New Testament had people that were called by that name. The meaning, however, was slightly different than how we might use it today. Every New Testament use except for 1 Timothy means servant/minister (this is my opinion even for Romans 16:1). This is interesting. This shows the highly valued term to be that of simply a servant, which is a reflection of Christ Philippians 2:1-11 and Romans 15:8.

Conclusion

So we have pastors (shepherds), preachers (public announcers), elders (episcopal ?), and deacons (servants). Some of what we have talked about is applied to pastors of today and sometimes leaders in the church. Other things sound more like things all christians should be doing. Although we probably might disagree on how the specifics of the roles should work, what we can agree on is that it must reflect Christ. If you have to be a leader be a servant.

Do not just say it…

be the servant.

We do no have to be afraid of the positions of authority since they have a purpose, but you do not have to be a pastor or deacon or elder to do the work of the King..

Just be a servant and reflect Christ.

Hear the words of N.T. Wright, “There are…no “special Christians. Ordination, for those called to it, is simply a sub-branch of Baptism, setting certain persons aside (as in Ephesians 4) so that, through their ministry, the whole baptized body of Christ may continue to function as such and grow together to maturity. Every Christian has a different calling. But all callings are marked with the same water, the same cross.”

Pastors, this means be humble, because you are in your place because God allowed you to be there.

Everyone else, be ready to do something.

Grace and peace.