Since I began blogging, I have been a part of two online women’s communities and left both groups. One was an egalitarian community and one is trying to take a neutral stand in hopes of “keeping the unity.”
The thing is, I am not interested in unity that is at the expense of the oppressed. I am not interested in staying silent on behalf of the girls and women who are being treated unjustly so that I can make privileged Christian women feel more comfortable.
I am not a conformist, and I don’t believe that either God or the Bible requires me to be one, so that I can keep some false sense of peace. If women are not permitted to speak their minds and share their hearts in any community, even if it might step on someone else’s beliefs, then that is not a sisterhood I want to be part of.
As women who lead, we need to be able to let go of “fear of rejection.” We need to be able to think objectively. We need to allow people to say all sorts of nasty things about what we believe, and be unfazed, because here is what is real. If a woman (or a man) gets upset over someone “picking” on their belief system, then they are not very confident that they are walking in truth.
When we know that we know, that Jesus is pleased with us, that we are following our callings to the best of our ability, and we are speaking our convictions aloud, we do not fear the other side anymore.
Think about how our Jesus lived His life. He was certain that He was speaking the words of His Father. He said with His head held high and his heart bowed low,
I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. -John 12:49
What if we as women came to a place in which we were so sure of who we are in Christ, what He has called us to do, and what He has called us to say, that we no longer will allow anyone to silence us or convince us to conform to their comfort zone?
Are we here to make people feel comfortable? Is making people feel comfortable really loving people?
Jesus made people feel uncomfortable all the time. He refused to conform to the religious social norms of his day. It got Him killed, but Jesus had a secret weapon against fear. Jesus said,
No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded. -John 10:18
Perhaps the reason women struggle so much with conformity is the very fact that much of the Church has convinced women that they have little to no authority in Jesus Christ.
Jesus also said,
Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. -Luke 10:19
The enemy has told the Church a great lie, women do not have authority and certainly not as much authority as the men. And Christian men and women both have believed this lie, put religious stamps of approval all over it, and wrapped it up in pretty, but false, interpretations of the Bible.
The enemy of our souls has convinced many Christian women that they don’t have to be as responsible for their lives as men, if they will just lay down their authority.
Sisters, I am here to tell you today, that the enemy cannot take away your authority and neither can any man, because Jesus has given you His life and His power. Stand up and take what is yours back from the enemy!
Then, you will know Jesus’ secret weapon against fear, which was that He did not love His life so much that he was afraid to die (Revelation 12:11). When we no longer fear death (or responsibility), we can triumph over every other fear.
No one can take our lives away from us, because we have the authority to do what we want to do. We can willingly lay down our lives or we can decide not to. No one owns us, except our Jesus, who will never force us into submission.
Don’t forget who your first love is. He is gentle and He is for you. Remember, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
Jesus will never reject us for being nonconformists and we don’t have to walk on eggshells around Him. Christian women might reject us, but we have the authority to walk away from Christian women like that and find a community we can be our real selves with.
When everyone is allowed to be their complete selves, things are messy at first but walls come down and real conversations start. Only then can we throw away our false sense of unity, our fake smiles, and our lukewarm beliefs and begin to create real unity – biblical unity.
Remember, whatever is true, whatever is noble, and whatever is right… (Philippians 4:8-9) is not always a pretty conversation. True peacemaking takes openness with good and bad feelings, time, love, patience and unconditional acceptance of individuals. You don’t have to conform or accept someone’s ideology or theology, but you do have to fully accept the person where they are, to begin making real peace.
If someone is not willing to make real peace with you (simply accepting you as you are) even after you tried to make real peace with them (simply accepting them as they are), then walk away.
If they want to make real peace with you, they know where to find you. If they do come find you, be quick to extend the grace to them that you wish they would have extended to you. Never pass up an opportunity to make real peace with someone; they might just end up being your best friend.
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