The God who loves and includes women in his work

The God who loves and includes women in his work

There was a widow in a middle-Eastern country named Sidon around 2800 years ago. We don’t know her name, but her story remains with us in 1 Kings 17. There had been a drought for several years and everyone was finding it tough. Some more than others. This woman had reached the end of her resources. She had run out of food, run out of favours, and had no-one to support her. Her government could not provide for her. She had a young son who was depending on her yet there was nothing she could do. She couldn’t make it rain. She couldn’t afford to buy food. So she was gathering sticks to cook the last of her flour and oil into some bread to have a final meal with her son. After that, there were no options, so they would die.

Unbeknownst to this woman, God had sent his great prophet Elijah out of his own country to seek her out. Through the word of God this prophet spoke, her small amount of flour and oil never ran out until the rain returned. She was sustained in a miraculous way, a way she never expected nor ever even dreamed was possible.

This is not the first time God cared for a woman or used women in important ways in his work. God saved Hagar and her infant son when Sarah cast her out into the desert to die. God used Rahab the prostitute as a key part of his plan, even including her in the family line of promise. God brought Ruth the Moabite into his people. God answered the prayer of Hannah in distress and saved many lives through Abigail of Carmel. In Jesus’ ministry, he was financially supported by women and unashamedly used women like the sinful woman who anointed his feet as examples for others to follow. The first witnesses to the resurrection were women, despite their evidence not being accepted in court at the time. And key people in the early church were women, including Priscilla and Lydia.

Many people assume that the God of the Bible is somehow anti-women, or that men are favoured in the eyes of God. This is simply not true. Yes, some church leadership roles are limited to women, and God doesn’t claim that women and men are identical in function in the world or the church. But men and women have always been equal in the eyes of God, both made in God’s image, equal in status but not in function. Even when the prevailing culture did not value women the same way as men, God did.

God has always included women in his work, and the modern church needs to as well. It is critical for us to include women in key positions, to value and champion the role of women in the church, and to encourage women in their service. There is no room for sexism in the church for men and women are equal in God’s sight.

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