“…stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor. 15:58 (TNIV)
When I first became president of CBE, a well-known evangelical wrote to encourage me as a trusted friend. He reminded me that though the commitment to oversee CBE might seem daunting, all God expects of me is my daily faithfulness. His words have been a source of comfort over the years, for when our daily faithfulness is met with God’s power in an issue whose time has come, amazing results follow. Here is one example.
Just last week, I was invited to lead three workshops at the Cornerstone Fest, or so I thought. After arriving at the three-day, 20,000 person arts and theology fest, the interest of those who attended my lectures was pronounced and their spirit was irenic. As a result, our sessions on the biblical passages were lengthy and rich. We discussed Paul’s female coworkers, his teachings on the spiritual gifts, and the impact of Gal. 3:28 on Paul’s ecclesiology—how Christians functioned as the church. We were so engaged in the functional examples of Gal. 3:28 in Scripture (such as Pentecost, Priscilla and Aquila’s ministry, Lydia’s church in Philippi, Andronicus and Junia), we ran out of time to consider how Paul limited certain women from speaking and teaching when doing so proved distracting (1 Cor. 14:34) or unhelpful (1 Tim. 2: 11-12).
Conscious that we needed more time to discuss these passages, I offered to arrive early the next morning to lead an additional workshop. Everyone seemed enthused, so I reappeared early the next morning surprised by the number of people who wanted to study Paul. Then, it happened again! We dug so deeply into 1 Tim. 2:11-15, and 1 Cor. 14:34, we had no time left to discuss the oneness and mutuality of men and women noted in Eph. 5:21-28, and 1 Cor. 7: 3-5. You can imagine my delight when the scheduled speaker of the day failed to show and I continued teaching on Paul and women.
Drinking in biblical equality, as parched land drinks in rain, those who wanted an extra workshop got two! Perhaps best of all, we became friends as we shared the experiences that drew us to the gender issue. One man said he came to my Cornerstone workshops because his wife, though entrusted with leadership responsibilities in their church, had been denied a voice in their church government. He is confused by the gender-prejudice rooted in a shallow reading of Scripture and wanted to learn more about an egalitarian interpretation of Scripture. We ended our sessions with prayer asking God to work in our circumstances and to show us ways of reading and proclaiming Scriptures faithfully and consistently.
Yes, amazing things happen when we are simply faithful.Thank you for standing so faithfully with CBE. May God make us faithful, wherever we serve, trusting that God is able to do more than we might imagine is possible.