|FEBRUARY 2009||COVER MESSAGE||
WOMEN IN THE SALVATION PLAN OF GOD
In various Christian denominations, women are treated differently. In some churches, men and women are equally treated in the field of administration as well as religious activities. There are many denominations where men are exclusively appointed for ministerial and religious duties. In Orthodox Churches, women cannot even go to the alter though mother of our Lord Jesus is highly honored and venerated! It is a very sad situation and a kind of discrimination in the name of the Lord and Word of God.
In the creation story, woman was created from the man, bone of bone, flesh of flesh of man for companionship and fellowship so that man leaves his parents and is united with his wife (Genesis 2.21-24). No subjugation, slavery or submission to the husband was meant. As a consequence of disobedience to the God, penalty of submission to the husband was imposed on Eve and her daughters, until the arrival of the promised Savior. All through the history, women in all civilizations were treated badly and unequally with discrimination. For example, many Jewish men used to pray each morning “God, I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a Slave or a Woman”. In Greek and Roman societies, conditions of women were very pathetic and miserable.
Sin entered into mankind through virgin Eve and salvation came through Virgin Mary. Our Savior Jesus Christ came to wipe out the power of sin, death and the penalty of the curse through His sacrificial death on Calvary and to elevate our humanity from the fallen state to the lost freedom and righteousness of our first parents. According to Apostle Paul “there is no difference between men and women; we are all one in union with Christ Jesus (Galatians 3.26-28). When we search and study in the life and ministry of our Lord, it is clearly seen that women played a very important part.
Our Lord was born as the son of a human virgin mother. For the first time, He revealed himself as the Messiah to a sinful Samaritan woman who preached the good news of her salvation to the people of her town. When a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus for the ordained punishment of stoning to death, He saved her compassionately and wisely from the crowd. Our Lord had several female disciples and followers. Some of them financially supported and gave shelter to Him and His friends. When a group of mothers took their children to be blessed, the disciples tried to prevent them, but the Lord came to rescue the mothers. A widow put only two little coins as her offering, which was highly honored and praised by the Lord. When Mary of Bethany anointed the Master with precious perfume, His male disciples objected, but He approved and said that her story will be told wherever Gospel would be proclaimed! Out of three miracles of raising the dead back to life, two were done for the comfort and consolation of women.
On His way to Calvary, it was the women who cried for the Lord. During the crucifixion and suffering, several women closely stayed with Him while all the male disciples but John left Him. From the Cross the Lord gave comfort to His mother. After the resurrection, the glorified Savior first appeared to a woman, Mary Magdalene. What an honor and privilege to all women he bestowed! Mary was the first missionary of the resurrected Savior. Without resurrection Christian gospel is meaningless. On the day of Pentecost the gift of Holy Spirit was poured out to all men and women who were present. Before Pentecost Mother Mary and Elizabeth were filled with Holy Spirit. The Good Lord treated women without any discrimination and restored them to the glorious state of Garden of Eden.
There is a strong record in the history of early church where women were very active until Judaization began to creep in with its hierarchical and pompous leadership of men, which probably is responsible for the discrimination of women all through the centuries. It is a sad and pathetic state among the believers. Four daughters of Philip the Evangelist were preachers of Good News. Lydia was the first convert to Christianity in Europe as recorded in the Acts (Acts 16.15-16) and Apostle Paul and his friends stayed with her family. Homes of several women like Mary, the mother of John Mark, Nympha, Priscilla and Aquila were house churches for many early believers.
Of course, the Lord did not include any woman among the twelve apostles, who were selected to do the hard and dangerous work of preaching the gospel among people who were not friendly. They were like lambs among wolves. The Lord loved the women so much that He did not want them to be exposed to unbearable dangers and persecutions. Women are always more vulnerable than men in any fieldwork of missions. We are aware of some of the sayings of Apostle Paul and Peter in their epistles regarding the role of women in the church. They need to be interpreted in the proper context of time, educational, social and religious backgrounds of the early church.
Today our women are well educated in all phases and fields of human activities and many of them are very capable of doing efficiently all the work men can do. Our women need to be supported and encouraged to do Lord’s work in every phase of Christian ministry if they want to. Treat them as the Lord treated them in His ministry without any discrimination. Let us not forget the prophet Joel’s prophesy for the last days (Acts 2.1-17), sons and daughters, both men and women will proclaim my message, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. After all, when we reach heaven, there are no gender differences and we will be like angels of heaven as the Lord taught us so. Let there be no positions or places in every denomination where our women cannot be accepted!
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LIGHT OF LIFE
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