“What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who believes in me will do the works I have been doing. In fact, they will do even greater things. That’s because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
Anyone. The word leaped from the passage straight into my heart. Really? Anyone? I quickly checked the Greek word for “anyone” to see if it really meant anyone. Yes, it did. A thrill rose from the pit of my stomach.
I’m an “anyone”!
Jesus says that if I have faith, I qualify for the work of the kingdom. Faith qualifies me, not my gender. Simple, child-like, mustard seed faith allows me to move mountains for the kingdom. Jesus said with that with that faith, I can do the things he did.
I began to think of all the works Jesus did throughout his ministry. He preached the good news, taught people, groups, and individuals, visited the sick, clothed the naked (Mark 5:8), healed people from illnesses, raised the dead, delivered the demon possessed, corrected, exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, comforted, and directed, went to the outcasts, ate with sinners, fed the hungry, defended the weak, discipled followers, and prophesied. The list goes on and on.
Imagine Jesus saying that I can do those things too.
Jesus delights in our faith. Think of the woman with the issue of blood, the Roman centurion, the Gentile mother, or the paralytic and his friends. Jesus was pleased with their faith. He brought their faith out into full view and praised them for it. Gender had nothing to do with their faith or their capacity to participate in kingdom work.
In Hebrews chapter 11, the great cloud of witnesses are regarded because of their faith in the Lord. The chapter mentions a number of men and women by name, and they are praised, not for their manhood or womanhood, but for their remarkable faith.
Anyone who has faith can do great things for the kingdom of God. God does not ask us to be manly men and womanly women, but he does require faith. He asks for faith that delights him, faith that spreads the gospel and fulfils the purposes of God.
“Women received back their dead, they were raised to life again” (Heb. 11:35).
That is powerful faith, and it’s what our Christianity is based on—resurrection life. We believe in a resurrected Christ. Who were these women? They were anyone, anyone with faith.
Rahab was an “anyone” with faith who protected the male spies from certain death when they scouted the city of Jericho. Through her actions, the course of Israel was altered. This “anyone” was written into the lineage of Christ.
According to complementarians, women are not to protect men. That is the male role, they claim. But the actions of faithful Bible women say otherwise.
Abigail defied her husband’s decision and intervened to save David and his men from a devastating course of action. David praised God for Abigail’s good judgment and leadership. Abigail was an “anyone” with faith who led and corrected a man.
The faith of women is at work in the purposes of God. Clearly, faith cannot be restricted by gender roles.
There are many other examples of women who were “anyone’s” doing extraordinary kingdom work.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, initiated his first miracle when she prompted him to do something about the lack of wine at a wedding. Her role in that miracle is contrary to complementarian theology as well. Women are not to initiate. That is the role of men. Yet, Jesus responded, and was, I think, pleased by his mother’s faith.
The woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany in Mark 14:3-9 was an “anyone” who did something great for Jesus. Jesus said, “Her story will be told wherever the gospel is shared.” Jesus gave a high honor to an “anyone.” Though she is not mentioned by name in Scripture, her work of faith was acknowledged by Jesus.
The Samaritan woman became the first evangelist in the New Testament, and her ministry was approved by Jesus. She believed Jesus when he revealed that he was the Messiah. Many in her community became believers because of her act of faith. She obviously spoke to both men and women and her village was converted.
Faith once again defies complementarianism.
I’m feeling a little like Paul now. Do I have time to tell you about Jael, who by faith pierced Sicera’s head? How about Josiah, who sought the wise counsel and prophetic voice of Huldah and followed her direction in initiating Israel’s return to the Lord? Do you recall the woman who crushed Abimelech’s head with a millstone? Have you heard about the women who supported Jesus in his ministry, or Anna, who prophesied over Jesus and talked to anyone who would listen about the coming of the Messiah?
These actions do not fit the complementarian gender role for women.
Who said these women could do great things for God?
Jesus said that anyone with faith can do great works for God.
Jesus compels us to act on our faith as leaders, evangelists, and preachers just like the women in the Bible. According to complementarian theology, faith and the calling and action that follow it will always be subject to gender. Gender first, then faith.
But, the Bible tells me that I have been clothed with Christ and Christ lives in me. How about that?
Anyone with faith has been given the Jesus costume to wear and the Jesus role to play, all day, every day. We cannot allow the work of the gospel, Christ within us, and the power of Holy Spirit to be restricted by our gender. This horrible practice diminishes the faith work of both men and women.
Jesus did not call us to play gender roles. We are only called to live by faith and do the work of the gospel. We will not allow Christ in us to be obscured by gender bias, or by a set of rules for men and women. There is too much kingdom work to do.
Let’s do the things that Jesus says we will do, with all the faith that we can muster. Let’s build the kingdom of God, crush the enemy, smash this ugly patriarchy, and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We can do great things for Christ. Jesus said so.
Am I not an “anyone”? An “anyone” with faith, that is.
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