Thursday, September 10, 2009

Women Who Minister

"SOON AFTERWARD, [Jesus] went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve [apostles] were with Him,

2And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled;

3And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager; and Susanna; and many others, who ministered to and provided for Him and them out of their property and personal belongings." Luke 8:1-3 (AMP)

This wasn't at all the passage I was going to blog about today. I had seeds on my mind, and I was headed further into Luke, chapter 8, to dig into some seed scattering. Interestingly enough, what I was looking for, wasn't actually there, but these first few verses in Luke 8 were. I read it through a few times to make sure it was saying what it was actually saying, and then I was intrigued and thought it would be good to share this morning.

I was reading through some old posts on this blog from about a year ago, and as I usually find when I read old blog posts, I wondered if I had actually written what I was reading. It sounds so much better when I go back and read them than when they first come out on the page. I had done a post about the mere fact that I am a woman, and I struggled with the idea of being a woman in service. I talked about Deborah, and the idea of waking up- you can read about it here. This morning though, as I read the beginning of Luke, I wonder why verse three in particular doesn't get more attention.

It says right there, in black and white, that these women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others, ministered. They traveled with Jesus, they ministered to Him, and I'm sure to others, and they also provided for him and others out of their own personal belongings. I'll bet it was more than that too- I am certain that these women served with all their heart too, preparing food, mending clothing, maybe cleaning up when they stayed at some one's house. You know they had to do that with all their heart and with hearts full of joy.

Just for kicks, I went to Miriam-Webster and looked up the meaning of the word "minister", here is what it says.

2 a : one officiating or assisting the officiant in church worship b : a clergyman especially of a Protestant communion
3 a : the superior of one of several religious orders —called also minister-general b : the assistant to the rector or the bursar of a Jesuit house
4 : a high officer of state entrusted with the management of a division of governmental activities
5 a : a diplomatic representative (as an ambassador) accredited to the court or seat of government of a foreign state b : a diplomatic representative ranking below an ambassador.

You know what I notice? Not one of these definitions mentions being a servant or lowly. All of the definitions of minister sound important- or high ranking, if you will. We see words like superior, high officer, a diplomat. It's verses like this that I think so many of us women need to see, we need to see that there are examples in the Bible of women in positions that are traditionally held by men. It's kind of like reading about the youth the other day- sometimes God calls the youth to speak to the elders of the church, and sometimes, He wants those elders to be women.

And so many women struggle with this. We see other places in the Bible that tell us to be a help meet to our husband, or we've been part of a community of believers who believe that women should be seen but not heard. I'll tell you, the exact same Jesus who works in the mightiest of men is the one and the same Jesus who dwells in me.

"For God does not show favoritism. " Romans 2:11

I, as a woman, have the same abilities and the same right to be a minister as my fellow brothers in Christ. God doesn't favor men over women, and I think more and more women are realizing this. I've noticed lately that while a lot of the speakers we see are men, that more and more, their wives are also standing up and speaking. It's so wonderful to see that, because women are just as important as men, and God can use them in the exact same way.

Sometimes though, we may find ourselves in a season of diaper-changing and toddler-wrangling, and that's okay too. But just because we're in that season for a time, doesn't mean that is to always be our season. God may very well call a woman to nursery duty for a time, but the same God may also call the same woman at another time to minister to adults.

I guess I just needed a reminder this morning. I needed to be reminded that being a woman does not exclude me from anything that God has for His people. Every once in a while, I find that I have my doubts, and the more I read in my Bible about other women ministering, the more my thoughts of inadequacy are chased away.


Michele said...

I think when some people feel that a woman is not in the same "position" as a man (speaking from a Biblican viewpoint) there are referring to 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Not that women can't minister but God has called us to a certain place in ministry, not exactly the same place as men.

It is a shame that sometimes people can elevate this particular passage to a place of legalism in that they feel that women have no place in the ministry at all. As you have shown, that is not the case at all. Acts 18:26 shows that God very much does use women in ministry as does the verse you mention in Romans as well as Titus 2:3-5. It is interesting that the passage you mention from Luke is rarely, if ever, used to show God's use of women ministers.God can and does use us in many ways!

Erika W. said...

Thank you for adding that Michele! I agree- it is such a shame when people turn particular passages into a legal point of view, without looking for other areas of scripture that may say otherwise.

I must have read this chapter in the Bible a hundred times over, but this is the first time that I really read verse three, I think- so it really was interesting to me. I don't expect to be called to minister anytime soon, but it is a good reminder to me to be just as respectful to the women who DO minister as the men who minister.