Listening in on a conversation about a woman’s role in church enlightened me. Of course you have the two sides, one that says they can’t be a pastor or deacon and the other sees no problem letting them. As I listened to this debate I started to see this in a new way. What if both of these aren’t the real issue? What if the answer lies elsewhere?
During this conversation a question about whether to let gays become a member of a church was also thrown into the mix. A man asked another, who happens to be a pastor, “Would you let someone who is gay become a member of your church?” So we had a woman’s role and gay church members mixed into the same conversation. It may sound confusing reading of it, but you know how conversations go from one topic to the other. When you are there it seems to flow just fine.
While these types of discussions tend to try and pull you in; I chose to remain quiet for the most part. As I listened to the pros and cons about these things I began to question whether or not the answer might lie outside of the norm. I just can’t see Jesus, for instance, saying to someone gay that came asking if he could follow him “not until you change your ways!” I mean isn’t it being in the presence of Jesus that changes us? Some folks start to follow him and don’t continue, as we see in the gospels, but who am I to tell someone they can’t follow? Have we turned church membership into some invitation into a club? How many of us would be allowed to stay if the same criteria were used for us?
With the topic of a woman’s role I think it too is answered outside of the normal “I’m for it” or “I’m against it” answer. For me I have concluded that the Apostle Paul’s whole reason for setting up this sort of church structure is for those believers who are less mature. When you are dealing with children you have to have rules to guide them. In Ephesians 4 we read God gave the church “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Did you notice the word UNTIL? There will come a time when these offices are unnecessary because we will have grown up!
Love is the goal. God is love. According to the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians faith, hope and love are all that will remain one day and the greatest is love. While it may sound mushy or sentimental; love is the point. Without love church membership means absolutely zero. The Bible tells us “it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance.”
I’m not sure if you have ever seen the T.V. show “The Dog Whisperer” or not, but I would like to share an illustration with you from that show. Cesar Millan is the dog whisperer and he is sort of a dog psychologist. People call him when they have a dog with behavioral problems they can’t seem to resolve. The way it works is Cesar comes to their house to assess the situation and does his best to help. Most of the time it is the dog owner who needs the rehabilitation. Sometimes the dog requires more extensive help so Cesar takes it to his compound. Cesar’s compound has an unbelievable array of different breeds of dogs living together in what seems like perfect harmony. Cesar takes what he calls the “unstable” dog and places it in with his pack of “stable” dogs. In a matter of weeks he renews the “unstable” dogs mind; He calls it the “Power of the Pack.” The thing I want you to notice though is a huge part of the rewiring of the “unstable” dog only happens because he lives around “stable” dogs, and they teach him how to be “stable.” For those that may not be following me; let me just say it.
Sometimes there are people that come into the fellowship of a church and they are “unstable” (Non-discipled or Lost). They simply do not know how a “stable” (Saved) person behaves. It is going to take some of the other “stable” church members to guide and teach them. The goal of course is that at some point the now “unstable” (Lost) person will become “stable” (Saved) and then be able to turn around and help stabilize others. Apparently, according to Cesar, some of these dogs have never known how to behave as dogs. Dog owners tend to treat their dogs as humans and then can’t understand why the dog acts in a way unacceptable to them. The church’s role, not unlike Cesar’s, is to reeducate people in who they truly are; a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Once becoming saved and discipled the instability minimizes, and we have no need of someone to teach us because we have become what God intended for us all along; a mature lover of him and others.
Written by Louie