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Published Date: April 20, 2011

Published Date: April 20, 2011

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The Power of the Cross

As Christians around the world are preparing to celebrate Easter, I often wish I could hear “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” declared by believers in every language and every tongue. Wouldn’t that be extraordinary to witness the entire human race, in all of its ethnic expressions, raising their unique voices in celebrating our risen Lord? Even more wondrous is that, in celebrating Christ’s victories on Calvary as the human family, we acknowledge that our union with Christ rises supreme over both our separation from God and our conflicts with one another, which for too long have separated human beings from the harmony and mutuality God intended.

Christ came to break down the dividing walls and reconcile all people into one body through the cross (Eph. 2:14-16). Therefore, all people are heirs and priests of the kingdom and neither ethnicity, class, nor gender is relevant to one’s inclusion and calling in God’s kingdom (Gal. 3:28). It is the cross alone that ends divisions—divisions first noted between man and woman seen in the “he will rule over you,” of Genesis 3:18. Christ’s sacrifice overcomes the curse and becomes the portal to newness of life. To be born of Christ, now possible because of Easter, means that we are also one in Christ with all other believers. Just as Galatians 3:28 suggests, there is no longer “Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female,” because we are all “one in Christ.” This is the victory of Easter, and it is very good news for all of humanity.

In Christ’s new covenant community, women are not in need of male authority in order to use their gifts. Women, like men, have the same freedom to obey and follow Christ, if God gifts them with the ability to preach, prophesy, lead, pastor, or administrate. No other human being should come between her and her Lord. There is no other authority or covering that women need to obey and follow Christ.

If we insist on saying that yes, a woman does need an additional covering or authority over her in order to obey and follow Christ, then we risk rendering the cross of Christ insufficient for women. In the same way that Gentiles do not need circumcision to become fully included in Christ’s new covenant community, women do not need symbols of authority in order to be fully and completely redeemed and sanctified.

Nothing can ever add to the victory of the cross—for any human being—and there is nothing a man can contribute to a woman to extend the work of Christ or the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The victory of the cross is either completely sufficient for all human beings, including women, or it is not. Paul says that those who say that the Gentiles need circumcision in addition to faith are “preaching another gospel.” In the same way, those who require another level of authority over women’s participation in the new covenant community may also risk preaching another gospel. Christ came to set us free, not to place additional yokes upon us.

The “good news” is the same for both men and women. As Paul says in Galatians 6:15, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” In the new covenant community, we have all been predestined “for adoption to sonship” (Eph. 1:5); we all have one master, one father, and one teacher (Matt. 23:8-10); we all are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8); and we all are filled with the same Holy Spirit. From the beginning, the plan of God “was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Eph. 2:15b-16).

Friends, this Easter, as you reflect upon the cross and resurrection, may you rest in the assurance of God’s expansive love, and rejoice in the new creation and life that was accomplished through the victory of Jesus.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” 
And let those who hear say, “Come!” 
Let those who are thirsty come; 
and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life (Rev. 22:17).