Archive for April, 2012
My devotional time has taken me once again to Esther, a great book to study. If you know someone who struggles with gender roles and the bible this is a great one to point them to.
A misogynistic king divorces his queen because she will not come strut her stuff in front of his friends. To find another queen he lives with young virgins who have undergone a six month beautification process. For all intents and purposes this king is, as some would say: a pig. He does not allow his wife to be politically involved and does not even allow her to come and see him under the penalty of execution.
When the king threatens the family of the queen she steps up to the plate and breaks all the rules of her gender boundary and changes the face of a nation. She stops genocide. She breaks a glass ceiling or two, and she saves her family. She does the righteous thing before God.
The difference between Esther and modern feminism is respect and calling. Misogynistic systems are not biblical, but throwing a hand grenade down that rat hole is likely to cause a lot of harm. Esther went before the king knowing that she could be killed for doing so. Her motivation was not breaking a system but following a call from God to save her people. When she talked to the king she did not compete with him, she invited him. She invited him to eat with her. She invited his friends. She was not crude, she was not mean, she was humble.
Then she really changed things. She saved her people by the hand of God because she was humble, gracious, called, and given power by God. She was empowered to follow God’s will by the Spirit. If you are a feminist I would say it is fine to fight misogyny, but do it for the right reasons. Don’t hate for the sake of hating, and fight for real change. Don’t fight for a position at the top when the people at the bottom are still stuck in their ways. Instead pursue people with kindness and pray that God would transform their hearts to see both genders as God made them to be: created in his likeness.
A constant struggle for preachers and teachers is answering to critics and recently it has become popular to label some preachers as celebrities. Preachers who sell a lot of books, have a lot of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and get a lot of views on YouTube are said to be celebrities. Oftentimes these preachers are critiqued. Critics say that they are making themselves larger than the message of Christ. They say that preachers should not seek popularity but rather should humble themselves. There are two perspectives that need to be emphasized when we are looking at preachers who are famous, either those who are famous and preach the Word and those who are famous and don’t.
Some would have you believe that Jesus was not famous. Jesus was very famous for a time. Giving away free food and miraculous healing will get you on the tongue of the local population. At the height of Jesus’ ministry he had people following him around getting close to him and touching him (Mark 5:24). He boated away from crowds (Mark 14:13). Jesus fed large crowds because they flocked to him. He fed a crowd of 5,000 men. Just the men numbered 5,000, not to mention their sisters, mothers, wives, and children. Was Jesus sinning by preaching in front of a lot of people? No, he was not.
Jesus’ ministry reflected the nature of God in two separate and equally glorious ways. The first was in reflecting the glory and love of God through healing and serving the needy. This is a great way to be attractional in ministry. Giving away free food and healing all the sick people who come into your church will attract people. Jesus also said heartwarming things like that we should love our neighbors and treat others as we should be treated. He was counter-cultural. He was against a powerful religious superstructure and was seen as a patriotic figurehead that would throw off Rome and unite the peasants of Israel and rid the land of the pagan Romans.
However Jesus’ ministry also revealed God’s justice and wrath. Jesus once met a young man and presented an ultimatum and watched him walk away (Luke 18:18). He also mourned the city of Jerusalem (Luke 13:31). Jesus did not shrink back from teaching hard words when the need arose and his ministry oftentimes suffered numbers wise. In the end Jesus’ ministry dwindled and he died alone. (more…)