* this is a post i wrote a while back for christine sine’s summer blog series about the kingdom now & how people are seeing it up-close-and-personal. i thought i’d share it here, too. it’s short & sweet & when i re-read it today it reminded me of how thankful i am for my brothers & sisters on this brave & beautiful & more-natural-every-day journey.
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when christine asked for some kingdom is near stories for this summer, i thought of all kinds of fun ways i see the kingdom of God in the life of our beautiful faith community, the refuge. but the one that seems to rise to the surface often is the beauty of gender equality when-it’s-really-lived-out-in-the-body-of-Christ.
honestly, i never set out to be so passionate about gender equality in the church. i have always been a boat rocker in general, but it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that the scales fell from my eyes and i saw clearly how unjust so many church systems really were when it comes to gender equality. i am a little mad at myself, to be honest, that i submitted myself to systems that oppressed women and silenced their voices for so many years. i think it’s because their oppression was subtle; it wasn’t like women weren’t able to serve and lead in many capacities. it was just that there was a clear and noticeable limit to that work and all the “power” ultimately rested in men instead of being shared openly and freely together.
over the years things have shifted and i see what it can look like for men & women to learn to live, love, and lead alongside each other. it is not easy to do; there are all kinds of forces working against it. but isn’t that really what the kingdom of God is all about? that despite the resistance of all of the “forces” of man and the world (and sometimes religious systems), there’s now a new reality possible because of God’s spirit-at-work-in-all-kinds-of-ways-that-defy-the-status-quo.
i am so thankful to get to see the kingdom of God up close and personal almost every day. i see men and women learning how to be friends, real brothers & sisters on the journey. i see men and women using their voices alongside each other, separately & together but equally. i see men and women healing deep wounds from their past with people and their present with God because they are finding people who reflect God’s image as mothers & fathers & sisters & brothers & daughters & sons in community. i see women freed to use their gifts and passions right alongside men and men fanning that into flame tangibly. i see prayer and support teams that aren’t just women-supporting-women or men-supporting-men but a lovely mix of both together, focused on loving and supporting and encouraging hurting friends. i see people saying out loud “i don’t know how to be friends with men (or women), but i want to learn. can you help me try?”
really, what i’m seeing up-close every day is how Jesus’ spirit can break down patricarchal systems of inequality that have been deeply engrained in us. it is not something that comes in a rush, but it is something that can come when God’s people give up power and mutually submit, one to another, in freedom and love.
our community is small. it is not flashy or exciting. we are poor. we are messy. and there’s no question–sometimes it’s downright scary to have this level of community going on right before my very eyes. but one thing i know for sure–gender equality is so pretty, a beautiful reflection of the kingdom of God in the here and now.
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a few other things i wanted to let you know about:
- starting in september, the monthly synchroblog is back with a regular schedule. you can check out all the dates & details here. i hope that some of you who blog will be willing to contribute; i remember when i first heard about a synchroblog i was all nervous & intimidated, thinking “oh, that is just for people who are cool-bloggers-who-know-what-they’re-doing-unlike-me.” (so not true but entering into something new can feel like that sometimes). but i plunged in the pool & am so glad i did. it’s just a great eclectic mix of people from all different perspectives writing on the same topic. no pressure, no big deal, no hoop-la or competition. i hope that you’ll consider being part. upcoming topics are a great mix: september is immigration, october is same-sex-marriage, november is life through the eyes of the marginalized, and december is advent. email me if you have any questions.
- lots of good posts on big-tent christianity, too, from their synchroblog. check it out here.
- my friends craig spinks & jim henderson have some new great, interactive material out about young people’s perspectives on christianity that we can all learn so much from called the outsider interviews. several of my friends are featured in it & have powerful stories that need to be listened to if we want to be part of transforming the landscape of faith for upcoming generations. i hope you check it out.