She roared at injustice and waged peace with her very life. She was a prophet, welcoming the outcasts into her home, speaking out against unfair global labor laws, standing tall and firm alongside her minority sisters and brothers saying, “No more!” to racism and hate. She was only 16 and the church as we know it had no place for her.
When I met this blazing high-school junior, I could tell she had a fire in her gut that compelled her to contend for things that matter to God. This was her God-given gift to the world. She shattered the mold of a typical, “godly young woman,” and lost interest in organized religion.
Not an uncommon story.
While the institution of the church in the West is arguably in decline, wise women, young and old, are finding their way to Jesus, starting revolutions of love against society’s degradation.
For the last several years I’ve grown in passion and conviction around a theology that proactively elevates women to a place of dignity and honor. In the church, as in the rest of life, I believe that leadership, ownership, and voice are to be shared equitably by men and women who seek to live honorable lives, aligned with the character and calling of God in Christ.
Just as Jesus raised up women to places of equal distinction within a society infected with patriarchy, so I believe women are meant to flourish at every layer of gift, role, authority, and position in the church and in the world. As the Apostle Paul said, inspired by Spirit of Christ, “For there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
So how are we investing in our women for the flourishing of their gifts and contributions on behalf of God’s dream for the world?
In his most recent work, “5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ“, Alan Hirsch writes that each person has a natural energy and momentum inerrant in them to participate in the Mission of God. As Alan suggests, how can we use the fivefold typology listed in Ephesians 4 to better help women discover their contribution? How can we discover these through the Christmas story?
Perhaps this 16-year-old prophet can relate with the young Mary who carried a revolution in her womb.
Or perhaps with the angels who were messengers of God, announcing peace and messianic rescue. What if the host of singing angels appeared to women today as they tend to their classroom of children or as they instruct the managerial staff of the company they own? What if the guiding star was illuminated to those caring for their aging grandparents, watching over bedridden patients or guiding participants in their yoga class?
How would women be creating the things our world needs, extending the reign of God in the world? Where are women working for beauty and peace? Who would women be shepherding; the entrepreneurs, peacemakers, relaters, nurturers, and educators among us?
Let the wise women bring their gifts to the Christ child.
Here’s a brief touch on the fivefold role descriptions listed in Ephesians 4, expressed through the lens of women. These roles are for the mending and healing of the world; the continuation of the Christmas story today.
APOSTLE: The Entrepreneur
She innovates, imagines and initiates the creation of restorative structures, events, ideologies and pathways for more people to be awakened to the love of God.
PROPHET: The Peacemaker
She contends for reconciliation and restoration within the cultural, environmental, economic and spiritual sectors of society.
EVANGELIST: The Relater
She connects to the heart of people, awakening them to the purpose of their lives within the story of God.
SHEPHERD: The Nurturer
She serves, sacrifices and walks with others toward their holistic wellness in Christ.
TEACHER: The Educator
She illuminates truth in ways that bring about spiritual growth and transformation.
This Christmas, may we all bring our hearts to the Jesus story, embracing our call and walking steadily into the next year
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, and goodwill to all.