“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17, TNIV).
In the last issue of Arise we considered how Scripture makes no gender distinction among those who reign with Christ,as joint-heirs in Christ’s kingdom (Gal 3:26-4:7). Reigning with Christ, Paul suggests that Christians will judge not only spiritual affairs (the angelic world), but also human affairs (1 Cor. 6:2-3). Passages such as these reveal the spiritual authority men and women share with Christ, as heirs with Jesus of God’s kingdom.
In response to this issue of Arise, a thoughtful reader wrote to say that while they understood the point I was making, they felt, nonetheless, that the passages under consideration had little to do with power or authority. In fact, they noted, Romans 8:17 clearly indicates that those who reign with Christ are those who share in the sufferings of Christ’s cross. Christ’s power, perfected through weakness and service, provides a “model for how men and women exercise authority—through the cross.”
What a helpful comment!
Authority, per say, is not the issue by any means—a point I made two weeks ago in my message on celebrating the primacy of love in male headship, over and against authority.
We recognize that authority is NOT the goal of following Christ or “reigning with Christ.” Yet Scripture does suggest that reigning with Christ will involve some form of spiritual authority; again, not as a focus but as a consequence of our union with Christ’s suffering. Only those who are ready and willing to suffer with him are those most qualified to reign with him. Stated more strongly, those who suffer with Christ are able to manage the weight or responsibility of reigning with Christ. After all, the text (1 Cor. 6:2-3) does tell us that we are to exercise spiritual authority within the cosmic realm (judging angels) and also within the earthly realm (judging human affairs). Because of this, why would we deny such authority to those Christians, male or female, who by their life of sacrifice and imitation of Christ’s life are best suited for this sort of spiritual authority? My point is, exercising spiritual authority has nothing to do with gender! It has everything to do with one’s intimacy with Christ and the cross. THESE are the individuals whom the church should place in positions of authority, as Paul suggests.
Celebrating a passion for Christ’s Cross, and all Christ accomplished on Calvary!