“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ― Richard Feynmann
How many of you have set out to resolve something and failed? Well, not failed, but descended into the rabbit hole of more and more questions with few answers?
That’s where I am. This is my sorry excuse for not having actually shared what I am working through. All I have right now are more questions than answers. Perhaps I should post each day 20 questions.…That is about what I’m coming up with each day.
I have come to the conclusion that on this issue – Women in Ministerial Leadership – there are no absolutes. Proving one’s case is matter of arguing semantics, context, and the usage of Greek and Hebrew texts that we are thousands of years removed from. Not to discount the scholarship afforded to us today in these languages and the history of Hebrew/Judaic and Roman/Hellenistic culture, but from what I have read it is incredibly subjective. I have read convincing, scholarly, Biblical-based arguments from every angle. “Biblical Feminism”, full- Egalitarianism, “Complementarian” (by the way, this is the most inaccurate use of a term I’ve seen in a while), beneficial Patriarchalism, even full-fledged Separatists…. and there are inevitably more that I’ve forgotten to mention.
I have decided to take a cue from the indomitable John Wesley, and stand by the philosophy that experience lends authority. Beyond scripture, reading the writings of the Early Church Fathers along with the measuring stick of tradition and testimony can lead us to truth. This is my intent.
My heart has inklings in certain direction but I am sobered by Matt. 5:19 and as I
boldly , with great trepidation, plunge my feet into this area of sharing my thoughts and meditations, I am wary of hermeneutical inaccuracy and, even more so, the possibility of being a stumbling block to another’s faith.
However, this morning I while reading for class, I read something that seized my heart and instantly the waterworks were flowing. (I sat down to write as soon as I got it under control.) I would like to share.
The book is entitled How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership and it contains stories, vignettes, and essays written by upstanding evangelicals (women and men.) Some are written by husband and wife ministry teams. In the narrative of the joint journey for John and Nancy Ortberg, John shared an insight he felt given to him by Holy Spirit. It surrounds the story of Mary and Martha.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42 ESVbible.org
Anyone who is honest with themselves will admit that we all read Scripture through our own independent contextual lens. Being an eldest sister, I always related to Martha and took seriously (sometimes) Christ’s admonishment to set aside the daily routine to spend time with him. I always spend my devotions and quiet time fighting off thoughts of everything else I should/could be doing. John Ortberg highlights that the phrase “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” used to describe Mary is important. Like I said, I’ve always read this to be a reflection of adoration; of sacrificing time to be with the Master. However, this is the same phrase that Paul uses to introduce himself and give his preaching authority. He was “educated at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3). No one will contest that Paul was a scholar (not just a student) of the Law. He was one of, if not the most, educated of the Apostles. This implies that Mary was not taking an isolated moment to neglect her chores to adore Jesus; rather, she had committed to learning. As Ortberg said, “The startling point of this story is that the woman who is commended is not the one who plays the role of hostess and does what people expected a woman to do; the woman commended is he one who became a student, a disciple of the rabbi, sat at his feet and learned from him.”
And I know this was for me. In many areas I often fall short: super-mom, wise counselor, dutiful daughter/sister, gracious co-worker, adoring wife…..
Student of my Rabbi.
Tomorrow I leave for Orlando, to spend a week studying under and with women much wiser and more learned than me. I hope to absorb all I can, so I can feel more confident with sharing with you….. and pursuing what I feel God calling me to, but cannot see yet.
And I am going stay at His feet.
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