Two thousand some odd years ago, he was walking around, a respected teacher and itinerant preacher, a man of kindness and compassion. But rather than hoarding all the honor everyone bestowed on him, he overflowed it into the lives of everyone he met. He crowned them with the grace he carried and the esteem that others gave him. He just bounced it back out to others.
To the chagrin of the Religious Right-All-The-Time, he notoriously elevated the status of every person he came into contact with. [How irritating.]
There were the prostitutes, or women with shoddy pasts, to whom he restored dignity and gave the right of access to him in friendship and support. Healing and forgiveness.
There was the guy formerly known as crazy out in the hills and caves, running around naked, slashing himself with sharp objects. He left his encounter with Jesus cleaned up and with "a sound mind".
There was the Samaritan woman, ethnically "inferior", per the Jewish line of thought, whom he was discovered chatting with, telling her her own life story, and converting her heart out of love and the draw of redemption.
There were those uneducated, teenage fishermen he befriended at the local seashore. He gave them 24/7 access to himself, taught them everything he knew, well, as much as they could handle, and commissioned them to wreck the world for the sake of beauty and reconciliation. And wreck the world, they did.
Everyone he looked at, spoke to, touched was better for the interaction. Can you imagine what it would be like to be this way? Of course everyone wanted to be around him. That kind of love gave him an incredible power because he had no plans, no desire to abuse it. He was nothing like the Pharisees, the legalistic, power-hungry leaders of the day, who sought to maintain control over the people by interpreting God's words in ways that gave them more authority. Jesus had no room for this type of thinking, this flagrant abuse of power.
I've lived under the acceptance of Jesus and his honor toward people, particularly women, my whole life. I took it for granted for much of that time. But over the years, I've grown to understand just how counter-cultural his worldview was. Now, America and sadly, even the Church in America, has a ways to go in accepting women as equals to men, and even for women to understand that inherently because of their humanity, and no other qualification, they have destinies, callings and rights bestowed on them by a Creator who will hold all people accountable for their interactions with each other. However, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the rights women do have here.
I am going to work today. I am going to drive my car there. I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree in fields of study that I chose. I selected my husband - well, we chose each other - and I married him on a date that I set in a location I chose. I am a co-owner of this home, a co-pastor alongside my husband in our church. I have so many rights, I don't know what to do with them.
|Saudi women playing soccer. It's not really a sport there since women are playing. [Photo courtesy of Amnesty International]|
So when I see women in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia struggling to obtain basic literacy, living completely covered as if to say "We are ashamed of you", without the right to drive, receive medical care or select a life partner of their own choosing, I am outraged. If you must oppress women, then you are giving away your fear of them. What would happen if these women had educations and drivers' licenses? What if they could vote? Or wear pants? Yes, be afraid. Women are a force to be reckoned with. Why else would history have enslaved us?
Ah, but I digress.
It is Jesus' way of life that has earned for me, for all women, the rights that we have. Jesus knows our destinies, and he honors them. He sets us up to succeed in them. He and Father God are the ones who have given us each a call on our lives that can only be lived out and fulfilled by each, individual one of us. In the skin we were given, male or female. He certainly would not want to repress us out of living in the beauty and creativity he himself designed us to live in.
Christianity lived out as it was taught by Jesus permits not only this creativity and innovation of a unique person, but also true free will and freedom of choice for all people, yes, even women. I long to see these nations come to know this Jesus who will give them freedom from oppression in their government, relationships, and most importantly, in their hearts. Their interactions with Jesus will elevate them for a mentality of a slave, a fearful child without a voice, to an adopted, accepted, beloved daughter. A human of such worth that God was willing to send his only Son to redeem her.
Yes, we have the best God. I will brag about him all day. The more I talk about him, the more rights, liberty and the pursuit of joy will be released in the world.
If you want to do something really practical with me though, join up with Amnesty International and take a bit of real-life action by signing this petition to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. It's a small thing, but think of the access to the world they will have with this simple privilege. Please join me in sending this message to the people of Saudi.
We see you, Saudi women. Because we love Jesus and we know how much he loves you, we cannot help but honor you and stand with you in your fight for civil rights.