I will admit that I love New Year’s resolutions. I love to imagine new adventures and projects. And I love to set goals, taking care to write them each down and share them with friends and family (which, my psychology professors in college assured me, make us much more likely to successfully complete them). Just a few days ago, I was catching up with an old friend and happily comparing our “2011 lists.” He is going to learn a new language; I’m going to run a half-marathon. And our lists went on and on.
As frivolous as New Year’s resolutions may or may not be, it is undeniable that many of us look forward to the promise of change at this time each year. Perhaps 2010 was marked by weariness, isolation, even desperation. Or maybe it was marked by the less dramatic but just as frustrating sense of being stuck or stagnant. Thankfully, we have the deep hope of change. With the memory of the Christmas season—the celebration of Emmanuel, “God with us”—fresh in our minds, we can cling to the truth that, as the famous Christmas carol reminds us, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” When all of creation was in despair—worn out, lost, grasping for purpose and redemption, and groaning in expectation for our Savior—the incarnation of God, in a humble, vulnerable baby, changed the world profoundly and forever. It may be both terrifying and irresistible, but, truly, when we encounter God, we change. And we know that, as Christians, Christ transformed us to our very core and will continue to transform us as we grow closer to him in faith.
As evangelicals, we love testimonies of transformation—the stories of how God has touched and changed each of us. And these stories serve important purposes in making visible our faith, both individually and together as the body of Christ. Hearing or reading the journeys of others can help point us to God. As we learn about the hope and healing others have found through Jesus, we can better see how we ourselves are in need of change, and we can better appreciate and praise the God who has indeed changed us.
Communicating our testimonies to one another is also important because it highlights our shared experiences. As we each struggle through questions, pain, and loss, others—through their stories—can offer encouraging words that they too were there at one time and that they survived, emerging transformed, closer to God, and more aware of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
There are many reasons why I love working for the ministry of CBE, but the one reason that fills me with the most surprise, joy, and praise for our Savior is when we are privileged to hear how a particular pastor, professor, student, spouse, or parent found biblical equality. Many of us in the church have found ourselves weary, confused, or brokenhearted because of the mistaken belief that women are inferior to men and unfit for leadership. There are few things that encourage us at CBE more than learning how these people encountered biblical equality and were profoundly changed. This is why I am excited to present this issue of Mutuality, full of stories of individuals who found biblical equality. I am confident that they will encourage and challenge you, and point you to the One who changes us, just as they did for me.
A note: Our theme is borrowed from the title of Alan F. Johnson’s new edited volume, How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals. It, like this issue, is a compilation of stories of encounters with God, and journeys of change. And already, the response from the evangelical community to it has been encouraging. The title and storied approach of the book have received an “almost universal interest” among the women Alan has encountered, he shared with me in a recent interview. It has been an affirming and healing resource for many women who have been hurt by gender inequality in the church. “What a precious gift to find this book—one that I’ve been waiting for all of my adult life. I want to jump up and down and scream Hallelujah!” one woman wrote. According to Alan, the book is also challenging those who are “not completely convinced to look further into the credibility of this evangelical understanding of gender and leadership.”
We at CBE look forward in anticipation to how this unique book will influence the important discussion on gender, authority, and the Bible. We pray that God will use it, and this issue of Mutuality, to transform us all, as only true encounters with our Savior, Emmanuel, can do. Blessings to you as you read and reflect!
P.S. It’s important to remember that some evangelicals have never changed their minds about women in leadership; they have always been egalitarians! Such is the case for our very own Mimi Haddad. Be sure to read her story!