All through life we encounter boundaries that are set up by society. We are shown boxes that we are expected to fit in and never leave. We are rewarded for fitting in and punished for standing out, trained to care about what people think of us.
In a world that is so concerned with roles and portrayal, the stories of Jesus in the Gospels are especially refreshing.
You see, Jesus broke out of the roles that society and the pharisees wanted him to fit into so badly. He didn’t shrink himself to fit into society, but instead loved with such unconfined passion that people couldn’t help but notice the contrast between Him and the religious leaders of the time.
There were times when Jesus faced a choice between fitting into a safe traditional role and boldly stepping out in order to change someone else’s life. He always chose the latter; He always loved without boundaries.
In John 13, we see Jesus, the Master, washing the feet of His followers. This was such an outrageous breaching of boundaries that Peter even exclaimed, “Never shall you wash my feet Lord!” The chore that Jesus was performing was meant as the role of the lowliest servant, and yet He, the Master, insisted on doing it. He abandoned the boundaries of His title in order to show love and sacrifice to His disciples.
In John 4, we see Jesus once again refusing to be restrained by social and religious roles, when he has a long and intimate conversation with a Samaritan woman. Jews and Samaritans did not speak to each other in those times, but Jesus was guided by love; not by policy. Because He refused to be confined by His role as a Jewish man, a woman’s life was transformed and an entire town was saved.
Throughout the entirety of Jesus’ life, we see Him rejecting the stereotypical role of a king and take on a much more humble position.
He was born in a stable as a baby and refused to let power and control be his motive as an adult, even when thousands of supporters pressured him to take it. Jesus didn’t fit the dictionary description of a king, and yet He is the King of Kings.
Jesus broke the Sabbath, He touched the “unclean,” and He dined with sinners while the “saints” gossiped about Him outside. Jesus wasn’t concerned with foolish rituals and traditions because He had a bigger job to do. He was on a mission to love, and real love cannot be confined to social or religious roles.
And so, my brothers and sisters, take up your cross and ditch fruitless gender roles. Do you want to be like Christ? Then concern yourself with heavenly things (Colossians 3:2). Adorn yourselves with love, humility, and mercy. Shake off the mindset that tells you that you have to be a certain way simply because you were born with a certain set of chromosomes.
Just as Jesus ignored the pressures to obey earthly boundaries, so should we as God’s children. We are free to live out His love in every and any way through which we might feel called to do so.
If you’re a woman that has a gift for preaching, don’t let deceitful voices tell you that such is a glitch. Preach, sister, and preach with a fiery passion! If you’re a man who is great with kids and wants to help in the nursery on Sunday mornings, don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t a “man’s job.” Rock those babies and sing those off key lullabies!
Identify the gifts that the Spirit has given you, and don’t let anyone claim your gender prohibits you from using them.
I know it can be easy to fall into a religious rut. I’ve been there. But we must actively choose to fight against the corrupt patterns of the world. Don’t allow yourself to become like the Pharisees; the ones who were so invested in tradition that they sought to kill Jesus simply because He didn’t fit their beloved structure. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with tradition when there is freedom and love offered by God.
God loves and accepts you regardless of your gender, so why can’t we do the same? Brothers and sisters, next time you feel pressured to compromise and conform, know that Jesus wasn’t defined by roles, and neither are we.
Charlie Olivia Grantham is a twenty year old college student from New Orleans, LA. She studies Sociology and Media Production, and hopes to work in the film industry one day. She enjoys blogging, yoga, and spending time with her husband and their pups! You can find her blog at charlieolivia.org and follow her on Twitter @charlieeolivia.
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