“… the righteous will live by their faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, NRSV)
Even before South Africa began to dismantle apartheid, Desmond Tutu did something very profound. Though he had no official platform or office, though he was without institutional power, he invited his opponents to join him. He treated them as colleagues who one day would work together as equals. His actions were prophetic and filled with faith in God’s redeeming work in our world. His actions reminded me of another story I heard recently, from the front lines of the gender debate within the church.
A scholar working at an institution unsympathetic to biblical equality quietly shared his journey away from gender-hierarchy. He said that though he had grown up in a church that gave authority in the home and church to men, he had recently reconsidered his position because of an act of kindness shown him by an egalitarian leader. He was scheduled to present a paper at a conference when suddenly he found himself without a projector. A prominent egalitarian offered hers. This simple act spoke louder than many books! It said to him that we are questing after the same goal—biblical truth. We are redeemed by the blood of the same Savior, and together we constitute the body
He also told me that the schools where he was trained were not only suspicious of egalitarians, the schools questioned their faith and integrity. Thus, when an egalitarian treated him with kindness, caring for his immediate needs, he began to question whether theological assessment of egalitarians was also in error.
Friends, Desmond Tutu knew apartheid would crumble. Egalitarians feel certain that the biblical message of mutuality, of shared leadership, will be victorious. Because of this, we can in confidence walk in newness of life because, though we greet this promised-land at a distance, it will be our home, a home we will share with all of God’s people.