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Women in Ministry – Part 2

God uses Women

The Second book of Kings tells of an account that speaks clearly about this topic.  When King Josiah’s servant rediscovers the book of the law (2 Kings 22) a notable chain of events takes place.  On hearing the words of the law, distraught, the King commands that his servant should “go inquire of The Lord.”  This scenario takes place during the time that Jeremiah the prophet was well known and active in his role as God’s messenger.  Similarly, Zephaniah was active and no doubt within reach.

However, at this point in history, when God is poised to give a word to His people that will literally spark one of the greatest revivals in history, He also chooses to send a message.

It is the same message we have been living over the last 4 years.   God uses women to stand in authority and release a message.

At this pivotal point in Israel’s history the King’s servant and the high priest seek out, Huldah, the prophetess who responds to their request and seeks the Lord.  In response, a king and a nation heeded to her ministry and her leadership.  For many years I had heard that women cannot stand in any “office” of ministry and also that The Lord would only use a women for significant a leadership role if a man was not available.  However, this is not the case in the account of Huldah’s ministry.

Neither Male nor Female

In his letter to the Philippians Paul writes – In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

I have often wondered if there was something in the writing of those words that mirrors the historical order in which The Lord intends to address these issues.  In Paul’s time the animosity and superiority that separated gentiles and Jews was clearly addressed.  There were those who clung to the elitism of The Jews and the law that was erstwhile understood to be God’s unwavering preference.  But The Lord was doing a new thing.  He was tearing down the dividing wall.

Many centuries later the issue of “slave nor free” came under the divine spotlight.  Many Christians defended the practice of slavery by citing the writings of Paul.  After all, Paul seems to clearly endorse the oppression of one human by another, even affirming that The Lord would be pleased if a slave might submit to a harsh master.  Both Peter and Paul give clear instructions for slaves and masters. Does this not therefore endorse slavery as an apostolically affirmed practice for Christian community?

In our times there are still many who do not believe that in Christ there is “neither male nor female.”  There are those who believe that women do not have the same freedom to minister and lead in the local church.  There are those who cite the writings of Paul to support a theology and worldview that limits a woman’s opportunities to use her God-given abilities and to explore her gifts and calling.

Women can preach but not stand in senior leadership.

It seems that some, myself included, have jousted with the sentences of Paul’s letters.  At the end of the match we are petulant, rolling our eyes at each other and drawing lines in the dry sand.

Well woman can preach, but they cannot be in senior leadership.  If Jesus had meant for us to have female apostles/leaders He would have selected some amongst the twelve.

Good point.  I think, but with that reasoning can we further deduce that only Jews can be apostles, because Jesus did not invite any gentiles to be amongst them?

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Roman church (Romans 16) he makes some radical statements.  He commends Phoebe as Deacon and as a tremendous help in the ministry. Let us bear in mind that she was entrusted to deliver the letter Paul had written.  He greets Priscilla before greeting her husband Aquila, from which some deduce she was more notable in service that he.

Furthermore, he greets Juina (which for many years was translated as the male name Junius) who Paul goes on to affirm was “of note among the apostles”.   Some have asserted this means that she was “known by” the apostles, however as stated by the theologian and Greek scholar N.T Wright “it has been shown quite recently that it cannot mean that.  She is a woman and she is an apostle just as Phoebe is a Deacon”.

As I read the bible and study church history, I see women being used to deliver important messages to nations and communities.  I see women being affirmed and commended.  I believe that blows in the face of religious arguments that limit the role of women in the church community.

I believe we are living in a time where The Lord is going to raise up men and women alongside one another to spark revivals and speak to communities and nations.

Stephanie Jones is the co-pastor at New Day, alongside her husband Scott. With their 4 children, they moved from Michigan to Summerville to start New Day Community Church over 4 years ago. She has written a 4 part series on Women in Ministry. Please go to http://blog.newdaychurchsc.com/ to read the whole series.

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