A Reflection for Sunday August 18th, 2019
So, this week is going to be a bit different. Pastor Sara Bainbridge will be offering the perspectives of a woman pastor who preached in the south for 25 years. Her experience teaches us that the Bible is far too easily misused to promote ego-centric perspectives rather than God-centric perspective. The controversy of women leading in ministry is a prime example in our world.
Because Sara will not be focusing on any one piece of Scripture Sunday, I’m going to be a bit more general in this blog as well. The key focus is what I see as God’s intention for all of creation, which then is also God’s intention for each of us. God is moving everything from chaos to divine order. This is the structure of the Bible, and it appears to be the structure of the universe. The world begins with chaos in Genesis chapter 1. God then orders the chaos and creates structure, a universe, a world, a garden, and people. The difference between people and much of the rest of creation is that we are individually and socially always in the process of moving from chaos to order; moving from lower levels of maturity to higher levels.
This is the human story as crafted in the Bible. Humanity moves from very self-centered or ego centered ways of living, ever so slowly, towards more God-centered or creation-centered ways of being in the world. Job is an excellent example. He spends most of the story in which he is the main character, complaining about how unfair his dilemma is. He demands that God fixes his problems. When God finally answers Job’s prayers, God does so not by answering the questions but by reframing Job’s perspective. God basically informs Job that he is but one small piece of God’s creation, and God loves all of it. Job grows into the mature perspective of being able to be content at living in relationship with God, knowing that God is never far, even when it feels like that is the case.
Job comes to the realization that he was only focused on his own perspective, and had lost sight of God’s big picture. The same is far too often our own dilemma. If we believe that women are not capable of leading men or leading a congregation, we should have the courage to admit such thinking is simply our belief. Period. Perhaps we don’t like the idea of women leading men, but that is our issue. It is our belief, and we take that belief, far too often, to the Bible and look for scriptural ways of justifying our perspective.
People who have moved to a God-centered view of the world are seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus. They treat everyone the same without discrimination. They invite all people into their lives regardless of social orientation, sexual orientation, race, class, or belief system. They are mature enough to listen to people who have important experiences and wisdom to offer without prejudging that person because of the way they look or behave. This by the way, is also deeply biblical. Jesus is not the only one to preach this message, it is woven through all of Scripture. While Jesus is not the only person biblically to teach this message, he does give us a powerful witness in how we can live this divine reality. Following Jesus is the way of developing spiritual maturity.
If you would like to study the Bible looking for ways that God is maturing people from chaotic ego-centered perspectives to well-ordered God-centered perspectives, here are some outstanding resources:
- Daily Meditations:Center for Action and Contemplation Blog: Monday August 12, 2019
- Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition. Barbara J. MacHaffie
- Women’s Bible Commentary. Newsom, Ringe, Lapsley, editors
- Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible. Carol Meyers
- The Global Bible Commentary. Daniel Patte