Monday, August 29, 2011

Living By Faith vs. Living By Sight

It’s hard to believe in something you can’t exactly see, isn’t it? The popular saying “you have to see it to believe it” is burned into our psyches. For the non-Christian one of the greatest obstacles to trusting in Christ is that salvation comes by faith, not by sight. For the Christian, living in light of this reality is often just as hard. When life is going well it might be relatively easy to trust in God’s promises for you. You want for nothing. The sun is shining. Everything seems to be going your way. But what about when things aren’t going the way you hoped? What do you hope in then?

Mark Dever, in his book The Message of the New Testament, says “If you try to live by what is seen, you will crash and burn as a Christian. Rather, then we fix our eyes ‘on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’”

He goes on to ask at the end of his chapter on 2 Corinthians, “Pick some trial you presently face: What would living by sight look like in response to that trial? What would living by faith look like? How will you do the one and not the other?”

This question has been with me since I read it this weekend. I’ve talked about wrestling through 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 before, but this question made me dig even deeper into what it means to walk through a trial by faith.

Walking by faith, and not by sight, is a constant, lifelong battle. We will always face trials as Christians. Sure, there will be seasons of great joy and plenty. But most often it is the trials that God uses to chisel us and make us more like him; and just because the outcome at the end of the trial is glorious, doesn’t mean the process of getting there is pleasant. So it’s a battle. We fight to have eyes of faith that cause us to catch a small glimpse of the promises of God being fulfilled in our circumstance.

Right after our miscarriage I had a lot of hope for what God would do in our lives in the midst of our loss. I was overcome with sorrow over losing our baby, but I think God was especially kind to give me sweet fellowship with him in that intense season of grief. What began as hopeful expectancy about getting pregnant again has now turned into wondering what God is trying to do in our lives through this. Each passing month brings the sting of loss and the sting of longing to the surface in greater degrees. The temptation to live by sight is ever present in these moments. For me, living by sight would mean believing that God really isn’t hearing our prayers. Living by sight looks like questioning God’s goodness in all of it. What I “see” is another negative pregnancy test. What I “see” is a feeling that this will never work out like I want it to. What I “see” is that God doesn’t seem to be answering my prayers.

Oh, but he is.

Every once in a while he provides a little glimpse into what he is doing in our fragile lives. In those moments, no matter how small, I’m given fuel to keep going in this race. But a lot of times I’m left wondering how long he will keep us in limbo. It’s in those moments where I wrestle with living by faith. All I can see is the “seen” of our infertility. I imagine that is how Abraham felt when he waited and waited and waited for God to give Sarah and him a child. So what does it look like to live by faith in trying circumstances? God is so kind to gives us an example of what living by faith looks like in his word:

“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’”—Romans 4:19-22

Faith is believing that God will do what he says. Does this mean that my infertility will go away, or that your trial will end for you? No, it does not. But it means something much more glorious.

Hebrews 12:2 says:

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

This verse comes after the amazing faith chapter of Hebrews 11. Each of the believers mentioned in that passage were commended for their faith, but they also didn’t receive what was promised in their lifetimes (11:39-40). Many waited their entire lives for God’s promises to be fulfilled, and died with that unmet longing. For us, living by faith in this life looks like living by faith in Hebrews. We look to Jesus, who gave us eyes to have faith and will perfect it until the day that this faith becomes sight.

Living by faith does not mean that we will get all of our earthly longings fulfilled. But there will come a day where our faith will be made sight. We will “see” perfectly one day—and more importantly, we will see the Promised One, the One who authored our faith and gives us grace to trust him while we wait.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday is for Food: Chicken Chimichangas

I absolutely Mexican food. I could eat it every week (or day) and not get tired of it. In fact, I have. In college I worked at a Mexican restaurant and every time I worked (which was almost every day) I got an employee meal. I don't remember a single instance where I was sick of eating mexican food. So when I plan our meals out for the week I have to work hard at not overloading our menu with mexican food. I had never made chimichangas before this week, so I was nervous and excited to try it. But this recipe is amazing! I got it from my dear friend, Laura. Daniel even talked about it all night after dinner! So here goes:

Chicken Chimichangas

For the filling I used a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, but only part of the recipe since it came from her White Chicken Enchiladas.


Cooking oil (enough to fill 1 to 2 inches in skillet)
Large flour tortillas (I used five)
2-1/2 cups Cooked, Shredded Chicken
2 cups Reserved Broth From Chicken
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
3 whole 4 Oz Cans Whole Green Chilies, Diced (I bought them already diced)
1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Finely Diced
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 cup Heavy Cream (I only used 1/4 cup)
White queso


Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Add onions and jalapenos and saute for 1 minute, just to start the cooking process. Add chicken, half of the green chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Stir together. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir. Add cream and stir, allowing mixture to bubble and get hot. Turn off heat and set aside.

Heat 1 to 2 inches of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon chicken mixture into each flour tortilla. Roll the full tortilla like a burrito and place seam up in the oil. Fry on both sides until browned. Top with white queso and salsa.

We ate ours with chips and salsa because it was really filling.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Boundaries in the Workplace

How do you think through your working relationships with the opposite sex? Do you have boundaries? Does it even matter? Even more than that, does the Bible have anything to say about these things?

That is the question I seek to answer in an article I wrote for Boundless webzine. There are a host of opinions on this topic, and honestly there are a lot of variables at play too. In the article I say:

"From corporate America to the church office, we cannot escape the often uncomfortable situations that our careers find us in. Many are thrust into environments where lunch meetings are the norm. Some are required to travel with the opposite sex on business trips. And the reality is that sometimes we simply cannot avoid these things. While the Bible doesn’t say “thou shall never travel with a woman or have lunch alone with a male co-worker,” there are guidelines to help us think through our working relationships with the opposite sex."

Instead of making a list of rules, I wanted to provide a biblical framework for thinking through the often sticky situations in the work environment. So if you find yourself in the same predicament when you venture into your place of employment (or if you know someone in your life who does), I hope this article serves you as you work.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday is for Food: Meatless Manicotti

With all of the travel we did during the month of July I didn't get the chance to try out many new recipes. August has been much more laid back. I try to incorporate some meatless meals into our menu primarily for budget reasons. Meat is expensive sometimes! Not all of my meatless meal attempts turn out tasting very well. But this one surprised both Daniel and me. I only made half of the recipe and it fed us for two and a half meals (two dinners and a lunch).

Here is the whole recipe:

Manicotti Made Easy

2 cups of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (divided)
1 (16 oz.) carton of low-fat cottage cheese
1 (10 oz.) package of spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry (I sauteed fresh spinach, fresh mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil instead because that's what I had. And I don't like frozen spinach for some reason)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I just used the cheap stuff from the store because it's what I had)
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
14 manicotti shells
1 (26 oz.) jar of tomato basil pasta sauce (I just used the tomato sauce I had in my pantry)

Preheat oven to 375
Combine 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, and all ingredients through black pepper in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of mixture into uncooked manicotti shells. Pour half of tomato sauce into 9 x 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer. Top with remaining tomato sauce. Pour 1/2 cup of water into dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until shells are tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Missions Wednesday: Kenya

Kenya is one of the countries deeply affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis have fled to Kenya for relief from the drought and famine that is plaguing this region. Now Kenya is burdened by the amount of people seeking relief at their borders. One of the saddest stories I have heard about the people coming into Kenya is that many women are being raped as they journey to relief camps. This is absolutely horrific. These women are escaping death by starvation and in the wake of this tragedy are faced with horrible sexual abuse at the hands of rebels in Kenya. For many of them, death would be preferable. The Kenyan police are so overwhelmed by the population surge from the famine that they are unable to fight off these gangs of criminals attacking desperate Somalis.

Even worse, Kenya is considered a predominantly Christian nation. According to Operation World, a little over 82% of Kenyans classify as Christians and 48% of that number are evangelicals. This has staggering implications for refugees coming from a Muslim nation. Obviously, many countries (like America) claim to be majority Christian and atrocities happen within our borders all of the time. All the more reason to pray that the name of Christ is not maligned by these unspeakable actions.

Ways to pray:

- Pray for the Kenyan government. They have their hands full trying to provide help to Somali people while their camps are over capacity. Pray that they can provide needed relief and execute justice for the oppressed.
- Pray that these attacks against Somali women would cease.
- Pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ would go forth and many Somalian people would be exposed to the healing and saving power of Jesus while in Kenya.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

College Debt and the Sugar Daddy

Yesterday, the Christianity blog for women (Her.meneutics) published a blog post I wrote on the troubling trend of young women seeking older, wealthy men to pay their college debt. In the last week I have seen at least three news venues (two from The Today Show) talk about the "sugar daddy/sugar baby" arrangement. There are all sorts of opinions on whether this is an acceptable way to pay of debt. Some call it prostitution. Some say that it's just women using their sexual power for their advantage. And in a hyper-sexualized world, why wouldn't they be allowed to do something like this? While some Christian women might look at this story and think "that would never be me," what I wanted to highlight in the post was that we are all susceptible to the temptation to compromise something (whether emotionally or physically) in order to get what we think we need most. For these women it's financial security. For some women it might be emotional or marital security.

"What are you willing to sell for relational or economic needs? It’s a question I asked myself over and over again in my single days. Sometimes the answer surprised me most when I was tempted to give a little in order to get what I wanted. This sort of arrangement is so far from the heart of God, who offers us abundant grace freely despite the fact that we give him nothing in return. This payment — this debt removal — is what all of us, from the sugar baby in Manhattan to the church single’s-group regular in the Midwest, need more than any seemingly overwhelming financial or emotional crisis."

Read the rest of the post here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Have Been Given a Family

In many of our Christian circles we talk a lot about people "getting saved." Usually what is meant by this statement is that spiritually dead people are brought to life by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It's a glorious thing. Dead people don't come back to life. Dead people don't get saved. But in God's amazing mercy and kindness towards cold, dead sinners, he awakens us to the truths of the gospel and leads us to everlasting life.

But as wonderful as this salvation is, is there more? Can there be?

Yes, God justifies us (makes us right before him by Christ's righteousness), thus securing our salvation from eternal condemnation. But he also does something else.

He adopts us.

Adoption is a really popular phrase right now. Many churches are creating adoption programs that encourage an adoption-friendly culture in their churches, while also proclaiming the fact that this pictures our adoption by God our Father. This is a good thing.

When God saves us, he doesn't just cleanse us. He makes us a member of his family. Christ's atoning work on the cross secured our redemption and our inheritance. We are now co-heirs with Jesus Christ. That just floors me.

I just finished reading J.I. Packer's book Knowing God and it really encouraged me. I've heard people say that it's one of the great Christian books and that it should be read every year. I totally agree. In the book, he has a chapter called "Sons of God," where he basically unpacks the doctrine of adoption. I have heard sermons on adoption and read books on adoption over the years, but nothing solidified this reality for me like this chapter.

He begins (coming off of a chapter that talked about the heart of the gospel) stating that the definition of a Christian is one who has God has his father (200). As Christians, we now belong to a family. And our father is God.

Packer says:

"Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as
father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship - he
establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity
are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great
thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater

When we pray to God we are no longer praying to God our Judge. No, we are now praying to God our Father. We have assurance that our perfect, loving Heavenly Father hears our prayers and delights to answer them for our good. Understanding our adoption into God's family opens our eyes to understand the bounty of love and compassion our Father has for us, his children.

One more helpful thing on our adoption. Packer goes on to say that sometimes having God as our Father means he chisels us to fit us for the greater glory that is to come. This is always evidence of his great love for us. I found this particularly helpful the day I read it.

"In this world, royal children have to undergo extra training and discipline which other children escape, in order to fit them for their high destiny. It is the same with the children of the King of kings. The clue to understanding all his dealings with them is to remember that throughout our lives he is training them for what awaits them, and chiseling them into the image of Christ. Sometimes the chiseling process is painful and the discipline irksome; but then the Scripture reminds us: 'The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it' (Heb. 12:6-7;11).

May we all marvel at the fact that we have not been left as orphans, but been made alive by Christ and made sons and daughters of God.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God's Sovereignty at 35,000 Feet

Those who are close to me know that I hate to fly. And when I have a trip coming up that involves flying even the stranger on the street knows I hate to fly. I suppose it's some crazy way of coping with the fear, but when I have to fly every conversation leading up to the flight entails my deathly fear of the coming trip. The conversation usually goes like this:

Nice Person: “That’s so exciting that you get to go visit your family.”

Me: “Yes it is, but I hate to fly.”

Nice Person: “You know you are more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash.”

Me: “Yes I do, but I still hate to fly. I don’t want to be the statistic that doesn’t make it.”

Awkward. Actually it’s just plain ridiculous.

A few weeks ago I flew to visit my parents in Florida. It was a short, last minute trip, and while I was looking forward to seeing my family, I was not looking forward to the flight by myself. I've made numerous flights by myself in the last few years. The week leading up to every flight is always a battle with my fears. I talk about it. I over analyze it. I think of a variety of scenarios which only lead to more fears. My very active imagination runs wild in these moments. This time was no different. But this time something else happened. I was deeply convicted of my sin.

Yes. My sinful fear of flying.

Many of us face fear in a variety of ways (and I have written about that before on the blog). But while there are things to genuinely be afraid of, not every response to fear is appropriate. In my case, I was responding to my fear of flying with anxiety and worry. I believed my fears rather than God.

Our fears will drive us to something. The real test is if they drive us to the only one who can conquer our fears and provide the hope and security we long for. Fear should force us to cry out to God. Fear should drive us to the Bible. Fear should drive us to the Cross. I was convicted because for so long I have allowed my fear of flying (and a host of other things) drive me to my thoughts and my imagination rather than my Savior.

Dr. Stuart Scott, in his little booklet called Anger, Anxiety and Fear, has this to say about our fears:

“The more a person acts on his fears instead of going against them or pushing through them, the more afraid he will become. We must be willing to endure fear if we have to in order to obey God, to be responsible, and to love others (2 Tim. 2:3-4, 1 Peter 4:1).”

That is what I was doing. I was acting on my fears. They ruled my life, so much so that I started believing the anxious thoughts that consumed my thinking. This had tremendous implications for how I related to those around me. Anxiety and fear are self-focused by their very nature. My fear of flying was all I thought about whenever I had to fly. Those days leading up to my trip were all about me and my seemingly insurmountable fears. This self-absorption is the antithesis of what God calls me to as a follower of Christ.

So what happened when I flew a few weeks ago? I was still afraid to fly, but it was different this time. I wasn’t convinced the plane was going to crash. I didn’t tearfully say goodbye to my husband thinking it was the last time I would see him on this earth (yes, I’m a little dramatic). I didn’t close my eyes and nervously chant prayers while the plane took off. Sure, I was afraid, and I really don’t think I will ever get to the point where flying is my favorite thing. But I did have a trust that God would take care of me. He is just as much in control of a little plane in the sky as he is over everything else in this world that he has created. The most dangerous aspect of my anxiety over flying is that it takes me away from believing in my sovereign God. It’s a slippery slope to a whole host of other areas of unbelief.

All of the references to fear in the Bible are reminders that God cares about our fears. He wants our fears to be rightly directed towards him. This is our hope when our fears threaten to overtake us.

Because we live in a fallen world fear is inevitable. The sad reality is that planes do crash. Bad things happen to people all of the time, and many times to Christians. Until Jesus comes back we will face a constant struggle to not “fear anything that is frightening”, and steadily look to the one who is worthy of the right kind of fear. He holds our lives in his hands. He knows the outcome of every fearful circumstance we face, whether real or imagined, and he promises to keep us to the end.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Missions Wednesday: Famine in Africa

Last week I wrote about the current famine in the Horn of Africa. It's really consumed a lot of my thinking as reports continue to come out of this drought and famine ravaged region, like the fact that 29,000 children have died from hunger in the past 90 days (as of August 4). The news reports show desperate mothers and fathers carrying weary children hoping that their long travel will mean aid for their families. It's absolutely heartbreaking.

It's hard to fathom what a shortage of food would look like here in America. I have a full pantry, full freezer, and the means to go and buy whatever I want if I'm hungry. In fact, I rarely think about my hunger. I just eat. I was listening to Dr. Mohler yesterday, and like so many other things, his thoughts on the famine were helpful to me. He basically said that this crisis is a man-made crisis. There are people with an abundance of relief and food waiting to provide aid to Somalia and they are blocked by the Shabab or fear of what the Shabab would do to them. Somalian people are being abandoned by their own people. And that is what makes this disaster even more devastating.

Somalia is a closed country to missionaries and one of the hardest countries to get into. Years of violence and oppression have made it so that the threat of a foreigner being killed is real and enough to scare many away. And now Somalia (and many other surrounding countries) are virtually forced to open their borders to allow aid in. Only time will tell if they do. Already the Shabab have released Mogadishu to the Somalian government. This is a start. As Christians who believe our Bibles we know that God has used famines to preserve a people for himself and to save those who do not yet know him (Gen. 41-43; Ruth 1). He loves the nations and desires even Somalians to fall on their faces in worship of him. May it be so for many of them, and may God use this bitter and desperate circumstance of famine to bring many Somalians to the foot of the cross.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tim Keller on Suffering

Daniel has been reading The Kings Cross by Tim Keller and for the last couple of weeks has been reading portions of it to me at dinner. It has blessed me immensely. So on this Monday I would like to share a little of this blessing with you. I pray it encourages your soul like it did mine.

"And when you suffer, you may be completely in the dark about the reason for your own suffering. It may seem as senseless to you as Jesus's suffering seemed to the disciples. But the cross tells you what the reason isn't. It can't be that God doesn't love you; it can't be that he has no plan for you. It can't be that he has abandoned you. Jesus was abandoned, and paid for our sins, so that God the Father would never abandon you. The cross proves that he loves you and understands what it means to suffer. It also demonstrates that God can be working in your life even when it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to what is happening."

Praise God that our suffering in this life is not evidence of his lack of love for us. How comforting to the one who can't see through the dark clouds of suffering or sorrow. If you are his child, he loves you and is working a thousand things in your circumstance that you might not see right now. Sometimes he gives us little glimpses of what he is doing in our suffering, sometimes he doesn't. But one day it will all be brought into the light. And for that day we wait.

"On the Day of the Lord - the day that God makes everything right, the day that everything sad comes untrue - on that day the same thing will happen to your hurts and sadness. You will find that the worst things that have ever happened to you will in the end only enhance your eternal delight. On that day, all of it will be turned inside out and you will know joy beyond the walls of the world. The joy of your glory will be that much greater for every scar you bear."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Desperate People Pray

I’ve always been a little envious of people who pray well. You know who they are, the ones who genuinely seem to seek the face of God when they pray. They don’t get distracted, or fall asleep, when praying. They want to pray, and often come out of praying feeling energized and alive. Usually I hear them talk about joy in praying and feel like the kid who wasn’t invited to the party. Like there is something really important I’m missing. I have always known that prayer is how I talk to God, and that God wants me to pray to him, but I haven’t always felt like it’s the spiritual discipline that gives me the greatest spiritual high. And I always wondered why.

Jesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:18).

Other translations say “all who are weary and burdened.” Either way, the point here is that desperate people come to Jesus. The well-rested, unburdened person feels no need to come and find rest in the shelter of Jesus. They don’t need to drink of his sustaining grace for their journey. They don’t need to seek him. But weary people, they are desperate, hard-pressed, and seeking help. How do they find such help?

Through prayer.

For the last three years I have asked God to give me a desire to pray. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to my heavenly Father, or that I haven’t had requests for him. It’s just my prayer life has often been a roller coaster experience. Some days are high. Some days are low.

And then last August something happened. I had only known of my pregnancy for a few weeks, but I suddenly knew something was not right. Within a few days of those feelings I lost our baby. In those 72 hours I prayed like I have never prayed. I cried out to God asking him to spare our child. I begged him for a heartbeat. I was desperate. While he didn’t answer my prayer in the way I had hoped, he did teach me about my overwhelming need for him. No amount of my attempts at control could save our baby. It had to be a work of God and I knew that. It made me pray. And when we lost the baby it made me pray even more that he would sustain me in my grief.

In the twelve months since our loss we have faced continued struggles with infertility that have caused me to feel even more desperate at times. I can’t make my body work right any more than I could save my baby. But God can and he is where I look in my times of hopelessness. I’m weary. I’m heavy laden. By God’s grace I have a resting place and hope in my circumstance. His name is Jesus.

When I’ve asked God to give me a desire for prayer over these years I never expected it to be in such a needy way. But isn’t that evidence of his great love for me? I believe so. By taking me through this valley God has caused me to lean on him in ways I never would have had my life turned out differently. It’s the lean times that make us turn to him. It’s there where we are stripped of all the things that hinder us from coming to God. Yes, it makes us weary. Yes, it is not our first choice. But often it is here, while we are carrying a great burden, that we learn to pray.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Missions Wednesday: Pray for the Horn of Africa

More than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently threatened by the most severe drought and famine in decades. In southern Somalia famine has already been declared and is feared to spread to other nearby countries (like Ethiopia and Kenya) who are already affected. While much of America is focused on our debt crisis, millions of vulnerable people, largely women and children, are facing death from malnourishment and disease. Many Somalian women have walked long miles into Kenya, desperate for refugee camps to provide shelter and aid for them and their children, if they can even get into these camps.

How you can help:

Donate to Christ-centered organizations that will provide physical and spiritual food to those suffering.

Pray that aid would be allowed into some of the hard hit areas.

Pray that God would soften the hearts of those in the countries surrounding Somalia to open their borders and provide shelter.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Jesus Does for Women

Often when someone is arguing for the ordination of women he or she will turn to Jesus as the model for how women are to be viewed in today’s society. They see the number of women who were mentioned as followers of him, or even the fact that he included women at all, as biblical evidence for no gender distinctions for clergy. And if we believe that our Bible is true (and I do), we can’t deny the fact that women were the first witnesses to his resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). All of the Gospels talk about the women who were around Jesus, but Luke includes more accounts of women than any of the other Gospels. But does Jesus’ seeming endorsement of women present a clear directive for our churches today?

Yes and no.

Jesus healed women. Jesus engaged women in conversation. Jesus taught women. Jesus was served by women. Women were the first witnesses to his resurrection and given the directive to go and tell his disciples that he had risen. And while some would see Jesus’ interaction with women as a stamp of approval on the ordination of women today, I think there is something far deeper happening here.

In Galatians 3:28 Paul says:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Some have said that Paul, similar to Jesus with women, is saying that gender is no longer a barrier to giftedness or service in the church. For them, Paul is saying that gender is not the defining identity of your life, Christ is. This identity now frees you to minister and serve according to your gifting. But rather than establishing a new order for the way God created gender, or eradicating gender distinctions, Paul is showing us that Christ’s salvation is for all people—regardless of gender or ethnicity. Paul is simply building on the foundation laid by Jesus when he welcomed sinners, prostitutes, women, diseased, Gentile, and broken people to come and drink from his abundant streams of mercy.

In addition, Jesus’ treatment of women wasn’t implying that gender is not important, women should be pastors, or that either gender is superior to the other. But he was doing something profound for women (and for men). Mark Dever says that part of Jesus’ “manliness” was expressed in his concern for the vulnerable, namely women and children (The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept, 88). In his day women were viewed as less than men. Women did not have a voice in many things. A woman’s testimony was not as strong as a man’s. But Luke’s Gospel gives attention to Jesus’ great concern for women and their plight. This is a profound statement considering the culture he was writing to.

Jesus’ dealing with women was radical in his day, but not in the way we so often think. His care for women was radical not because it was so new, but because it was so old. Jesus went to women with a Father-like heart that viewed them as bearers of the divine image. And we could expect no less from our Sovereign King because he was there when they (and we) were formed (Jer. 1:5; Ps. 139). Jesus was doing far more for women in his life on this earth than simply opening up new ministry opportunities. If Jesus wanted to change a structure he instituted in the Garden he would have told us. But he didn’t. Instead he did something greater. His life, death, and resurrection restored what was lost in gender, families, relationships, and more importantly, in our own souls.