Someone in my online community is thinking of writing a post about witnessing. In a biblical culture that relegates women to nothing more than chattel and twice as dispensable, it’s a curious and wonderful thing that Jesus chose women to be his first witnesses of his resurrection.
I mean, what a crazy, counter-intuitive, inefficient way of getting something as earth-and-heaven-shattering as the news of your Undeadness out to the public! If the miracle of Jesus conquering death isn’t already a strain to believe, why would he have chosen unbelievable witnesses on top of it?
Because he sees women differently. Because even within a society that heavily discounted the value and veracity of women, Jesus says, “I know better. I see who you really are. I choose you to proclaim what just went down, and who I am.”
I recently learned a new word: Kenosis — the concept of the emptying of oneself in order to be filled with God’s will. The verb form of the word appears five times in the NT, including when Jesus is described to have “emptied himself” in Philippians 2:7. John the Baptist alludes to the concept of kenosis when he said of Christ,
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
In the lamentably contentious discussion surrounding Women in Ministry and Marriage, there seems to be a pervasive idea that God’s work is a zero-sum game. When suggesting that perhaps women can contribute in areas just as men do because the distribution of gifts is by grace and not genitalia, I’ve been told that “us women” are overstepping our mark. “The poor young men!” said one, seeming to forget that young women are systematically silenced and subdued where we/they are. (I’m borderline young.) “Robbing the men,” gasped another, as if we had to choose either men or women to serve, that we cannot have them both mutually contributing to the body of Christ. “Who will call the shots?” wondered a third. The constant imagery from proponents of only-men is one of competition and dominance instead of cooperation and mutual submission. That we have to fight to humble ourselves in service.
“Robbing the men” has stayed with me as a particularly disturbing way of framing the genuine calling of women to serve God. It suggests motives of selfish desire and ambition, a double standard when young men are constantly upheld as selfless when they articulate a desire to go into church ministry and leadership. This quenching of the spirit in women is an obstruction to their kenosis. It also sets men above women and endeavours to take the place of God, for it now becomes “Men must be greater; women must become less.”
I don’t know about you, but in an increasingly secular Australia that either denies, is indifferent to, or is openly hostile to Christ, it’s a case of too much work rather than not enough. It certainly feels that way as well when you read through the letters in the NT. There is that sense of “get on with it.” The urging to quit fighting and pitch in, everyone. Grow the body, give everything you got — your wealth, your hospitality, your wisdom, your youth and vitality, your age and experience, your many, many gifts. Here! The Spirit is pouring all these goodies out by the grace of God. Come and get it!
It feels totally crazy, counter-intuitive, and inefficient to say to 50% of humanity that if they have it, they cannot use it for the glory of God. That they cannot, should not pour themselves out fully.
What a waste.