My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Painting a picture - part 2

This is my (second) post responding to a challenge by Adrian Warnock. To find out more and read the bible verses that are important to understand this post, have a look at Painting the picture - part 1 first.

God created us as humans with a wide variety of emotions, character traits and abilities. But he does not approve of every emotion or character trait we display. In turn, there are several vitues/traits that God highly appreciates. That he wants us to show. Two stuck out to me after reading all these verses: humility and obedience (see e.g. Isaiah 66, 2 and Phil. 2).
God wants us to be humble. What does that mean? It means among other things to know that we are and can do nothing without God. It means to know our place as created beings in relation to our creator. And humility also effects our life in relation to others. We are to put others first and keep their interests in mind. We are not be selfish and self-absorbed. We are to be each other's servants. (See Phil. 2, 3-4 and Matthew 23, 11). And there is a reward for true humility. Jesus promised that the one who humbles himself will be exalted and God promised to look on the humble one.
Obedience means to follow God's word and keep his commands. Even if they seem hard to us. Even if we don't understand them. We can be assured that God, our creator and loving father knows best. He is Lord of our lives, he claims our obedience. God desires humility and obedience in the life of his disciples. The one who perfected this is Jesus. The son of God humbled himself and became a man and finally died on a cross. He stayed obedient to his father's will, even when it meant a shameful death on a cross. His mind of humility and obedience is ours in Jesus Christ (Phil. 2 5). So our lives should consist of humility towards God and others and obedience to God's word. Humility and obedience work together. We are to humbly accept the order of creation and areas of our lives that God set up in the knowledge that he is sovereign and that he knows best. Then we are to obediently live according to it. And humble love and respect should reign in our relations with each other. We are to mirror Christ's humility and obedience.
This includes accepting the orders God established concerning our family, church and work lives.

First, according to the verses of 1 Corinthians and Colossians, God established an order of authority in the family. God has the highest authority, he is even the head of Christ. Christ is the head of the man and man in turn is the head of his wife. This sounds very authoritarian, but is filled or softened by the picture of Colossians 3, 18-20. The wife is to submit to - to respect - her husband, the husband is to love his wife and not to be harsh with her. Here we find loving humility. The wife is to respect the God-given authority of her husband - but is by no means a mindless, unimportant, ... slave or doormat. She is obedient to God if she accepts his idea of authority. The man is to love his wife. This includes taking her opinions into account, serving her, loving her, treating her in a loving manner. The relations in a family should be goverened by mutual love and humbly putting others first. It is by no means the authoritarian hard unloving family as many people paint it after reading these verses.

Second, there are implications for our work life. God requires us to be obedient to our bosses because of him. He requires good work - again for his sake. We are working for Jesus Christ, not for men. This should lead to our best efforts. (I really need to work on that attitude!)

Third, there is an order established for church life. In 1 Timothy it is written that women should not teach or exercise authority over men, for this would go against creation order. This, however, does not exclude women from all teaching activities and possibilities. Women should definately teach women (Titus 2, 3-4) and they are most likely not confined to teaching about marriage and family life. Women also teach their children about God and his word and have a huge influence on the development of their children's faith (2. Tim. 1, 5). As well, they can teach together with men. Acts 18, 20 shows that Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos. So, there is no absolute prohibition of women teaching, as long as they do not assume an authority that God did not give them.

Although all these verses show that God established certain orders with specific roles and tasks for men and women, it is extremely important to remember, that both man and woman are created in God's image. Both are equal in that respect. God loves both the same and saves both the same. Nevertheless, he ordained different tasks for them. Woman is a helper fit for man. This is not some horrible or demeaning task, but a calling God placed on woman, a special role. I have the impression that this is mirrored in the orders God set up for family and church. There is also a special connection between man and woman (see. Gen. 2, 21, 23). I cannot really place the verses about the fall in the chain, except that God also punished man and woman each for their own sin, not for the ones of the other.

The overall picture to me is one of ordained orders that God wants us to obey and of different tasks for man and woman, at least in some (important) areas. And it is also - if it is obeyed - a picture of loving family relations, as each in humble love puts the other first.