One Image – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – June 15, 2021

One Image

by Naomi Schmidt

Ongoing Discussion – One Image – June 15, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that crawls on the earth.”
God created the man in his own image.
In the image of God he created him.
Male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27, EHV)

It is so helpful when God says things twice.

In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” The repetition draws you to linger over the truth of God’s image given to humanity.

Then, in Genesis 1:27, God says it twice again, “God created the man in his own image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.” He makes his point pretty clear.

One man, one woman, one image.

After six days of creating galaxies, living creatures, and rhythms of sustenance, the moment came for the crown of God’s creation. The Triune God consulted with himself, crafted the first human being in his own image, and gave Adam the breath of life. The image gifted to humanity was a spiritual relationship where God’s thoughts, desires, and knowledge would be reflected in the single, precious race of humanity.

The image gifted to humanity was a spiritual relationship where God’s thoughts, desires, and knowledge would be reflected in the single, precious race of humanity.

Then, in his infinite wisdom, God led every wild animal and bird of the sky to Adam. As Adam named each creature, his need for a companion and counterpart was clearly evident. Adam experienced what God already knew: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The interdependent partnership of humanity was not complete until God designed woman from the side of man—and gave her his image. When God was done creating, humanity was complete. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

One man, one woman, one image.

And then they fell into sin, and the one image was shattered.

The precision and repetition of Scripture leave no doubt about God’s original and perfect design for humanity. In the sinless beauty of creation, Adam and Eve had a holy need for one another. God wanted each of them to be unique not just for marriage or procreation but because he knew that male and female together is “very good.” Men and women were fashioned to benefit all of humanity together. God wants us to embrace and celebrate the interdependence of male and female as part of his holy design. So as the Holy Spirit works to strengthen our faith and restore God’s image in our lives, what can we expect? A glimpse of the Garden.

One man, one woman, one image.

The harder question is, “What does that look like in a fallen world?” We yearn to understand and struggle to find the best way to reflect God’s one image as uniquely restored men and women. But God’s Word is clear—it is one image. First and foremost, it is the image of God: loving what is pure and right; desiring all things that are holy; thinking only about what is lovely, admirable, noble, true, and excellent. As we grow closer to the restored image of God, our lives will look more like those first moments in the Garden. Distinctly male. Distinctly female. Distinctly holy.

As we grow closer to the restored image of God, our lives will look more like those first moments in the Garden. Distinctly male. Distinctly female. Distinctly holy.

Spiritual growth does not move us toward a diminished distinction. Rather, it moves us toward the design. In that movement we intentionally live in spiritual unity and interdependence with some unique callings that are masculine or feminine—but always holy. We labor together serving one Lord with one faith for one purpose. We honor the Father of all who revealed his plan in perfect wisdom and holiness. We are the created beings who bear the image and design of the Creator.

One man. One woman. One image.

For Further Reflection

Meditate on or write about Christian character and/or the spiritual qualities that make it easier to embrace the unique designs and interdependence of men and women.

Closing Prayer

Lord God, the majesty of your creation is a mere glimpse of who you are—but it reveals you as a master designer and displays your love for humanity. You designed man and woman to bear your one holy image, and we humbly pray that you would strengthen us toward that goal. Help us understand when your image is to be uniquely displayed in men and women, and make that the desire of our hearts. Increase our wisdom and encourage us with the gospel as we reflect your loving image in a world that does not know you. Amen.

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

Subscribe to receive Reflections on Our Unique Callings in your e-mail inbox.

Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Home, Church, World—What Applies Where? – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – June 10, 2021

Home, Church, World—What Applies Where?

by Kristi Meyer

Ongoing Discussion – Home, Church, World—What Applies Where? – June 10, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Altar Guild member. Handbell choir director. AV volunteer. Professor. Department chair. Committee member. Friend. Neighbor. Student. This is only a sampling of my various vocations and the different roles in which I serve. And although your list isn’t the same as mine, I’m confident that you also use your God-given gifts and talents in a variety of vocations and roles.

In addition, there’s another calling that we have: God’s unique callings for men and women. Throughout this devotional series, we’ll be examining how these unique callings play out. Before looking more specifically at applications in various areas of life—including in the home, in the church, and in the world—it’s important to understand both how Scripture talks about these areas and how differing circumstances impact the way we live out our callings.

In the Home

It’s clear that our unique callings have application in marriage and in the home. God knew that it was not good for man to be alone, and he showed this “not goodness” to Adam through his naming of all the animals (Genesis 2:18-20). So God created Eve to be a helper for Adam, a role that she fulfilled in her vocation as his wife (Genesis 2:24). Through the establishment of their family and the population of the earth, Adam and Eve lived out their unique callings in the home and established a pattern for all of us as we also strive to live out these unique callings.

We also have significant guidance in the New Testament on how our unique callings play out in the home. Passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, and 1 Peter 3:1-7 are specifically addressed to husbands and wives. The relationship between husband and wife, modeled on the relationship between Christ and the church, is a beautiful opportunity for both men and women to live out their unique callings. And as families are created, husbands and wives again have the opportunity to live out their unique callings in parenting their children and bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

The relationship between husband and wife, modeled on the relationship between Christ and the church, is a beautiful opportunity for both men and women to live out their unique callings.

That’s not to say that everyone’s home situation is going to look the same, however, and it would be disingenuous to imply that applying our unique callings to the home is easy. Unbelieving spouses, single-parent households, blended families—all of these create nuanced situations in which the application of our unique callings differs. And for those of us who are single—especially those of us who are single females—there’s yet another wrinkle to navigate in determining what our unique callings look like in our own personal home situation.

All that said, we do still know that our unique callings apply in the home. We know that wives are called to “submit” by putting themselves under their husbands, yielding to them, and supporting them as they carry out their role as the household’s head. Conversely, husbands are called to “love” their wives by reflecting a Christ-like sacrificial love, regarding their wife’s welfare ahead of their own, and showing this love not only in their words but also in their actions.

So yes, everyone’s home situation will look different. And yes, each individual husband and wife pair must prayerfully consider how to apply their unique callings to their own relationship and their own marriage. But there is no question that the guidance God gives through the inspired writings of Peter and Paul still applies to marriages today.

In the Church

Speaking personally, application in the church is the hardest for me to navigate when it comes to the unique callings of men and women—and, if I’m being honest, the hardest to accept. I’m sure I’m not alone in some of my struggles, struggles that we’ll explore throughout the course of this summer devotional series. What roles can a woman fulfill in the church? Can she usher? Lead or facilitate a small-group Bible study? Serve as a lector and read Scripture during the worship service? What about a woman who has been blessed with gifts of leadership? Can she carry out this leadership in the church without violating Paul’s prohibition on teaching authoritatively (1 Timothy 2:11-12)?

And, regarding Paul’s writings on women in the church, how do we know that 1 Timothy 2:11-12 still applies today? Why don’t we consider it an outdated cultural relic similar to Paul’s directives on women covering their heads in worship (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) or keeping their hair long as a covering (1 Corinthians 11:15)? For that matter, what about single women? Is there any way for them to have a voice in the church while still respecting whichever Scripture passages might apply today?

Answering each of these questions could easily be a devotion in and of itself, and we will tackle many of these questions over the course of this series. For now, we again need to remember the difference between principle and applications. Biblical principles are timeless and still hold true—as they were originally written—even though we live in a world far removed in time and space from that original writing. Applications of these principles, on the other hand, can (and do!) change from time to time, from culture to culture, from situation to situation, from believer to believer.

In order to understand how Paul’s writings apply to the church today, we need to be careful to differentiate between principle and application when reading his epistles.

In order to understand how Paul’s writings apply to the church today, we need to be careful to differentiate between principle and application when reading his epistles. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it is always a consideration that should be at the forefront of our minds when reading and studying Paul’s writings on the unique callings of men and women, especially as these writings relate to the church.

In the World

But what about in the world? In an unbelieving world that routinely rejects God’s Word and his plans for creation, that thinks of traditional gender roles as archaic and unenlightened, that encourages women to shatter the glass ceiling—in such a world, do the biblical principles surrounding the unique callings of men and women still apply?

Saying “yes” is not a popular answer; yet it is the answer that we must give. God does not have a separate will for Christians and another will for society, and therefore our topic extends to the world as well.

It is too strong to say that this “yes” needs to be qualified, but it does need to be understood properly. In the world—unlike in the church—we do not have the gift of being surrounded by the body of Christ. For many of us, we interact more often with unbelievers than with fellow Christians in our daily lives. There are multiple biblical principles at play in each of those interactions, and we need to consider how to properly balance and navigate those biblical principles—all while also striving to be salt and light to a world lost in sin and darkness.

We do well, then, to exercise loving patience when applying biblical principles in the world, and we do well to recognize that not all Christians will apply the principles in the same way.

We do well, then, to exercise loving patience when applying biblical principles in the world, and we do well to recognize that not all Christians will apply the principles in the same way. An action that causes one woman no pangs of conscience whatsoever may bind the conscience of another. A role that one woman assumes without any hesitation may bring consternation or discomfort to another. As long as both women are acting with biblical motivation, neither woman is wrong, and yet their applications of the same biblical principle look entirely different. Instead of giving in to our sinful inclination to judge, we should take the opportunity to have open and honest conversations on this topic—conversations that are always solidly based on God’s Word.

We are so grateful to be able to regularly have these conversations as a WELS Women’s Ministry team, and we’re looking forward to sharing the fruits of these conversations with you this summer. We also encourage you to have these conversations within your own sphere of influence. In your home, in your church, in your world, engage in open and honest dialogue on the biblical principles and their applications. Time spent in the Word is never time wasted, and we pray that your time spent with us on the unique callings of men and women might lead to more fruitful conversations—wherever those conversations occur.

For Further Reflection

  1. What does your own personal home situation look like? How do you live your unique calling in your home?
  2. Are you content with the way your church applies the unique callings of men and women? If yes, how can you support your church leadership as they continue in their application of this biblical principle? If no, where does your discontentment come from? Is it appropriate?
  3. What other biblical principles are at play in our interactions with an unbelieving world? How do you navigate these principles in your daily life?

Closing Prayer

Lord God, thank you for placing us in various roles and vocations within the home, the church, and the world. Guide us as we strive to faithfully apply your principles, and help us to view different applications as opportunities to engage in discussion and build others up rather than to gossip and tear others down. Bring us together as the body of Christ, and let all that we do be done to your glory. Amen.

 

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

Subscribe to receive Reflections on Our Unique Callings in your e-mail inbox.

Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Intended to Bring Blessings – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – June 8, 2021

Intended to Bring Blessings

by Kristi Meyer

Ongoing Discussion – Intended to Bring Blessings – June 8, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way (1 Corinthians 14:40).

In the midst of all things pandemic, you might have missed an anniversary last summer. On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment and gave women the right to vote. One hundred years later, we live in a time and place where women enjoy unprecedented freedom. “Be all that you can be” doesn’t apply only to the US Army. Congresswoman, stay-at-home mom, CEO, astronaut, doctor, nurse, teacher, lawyer, engineer, and even vice president—never before have women had so many paths available to them.

When I tell people that I belong to the WELS, I commonly hear “That’s the church that doesn’t let women vote, isn’t it? Why would you, as a strong and independent female, belong to that church?”

And yet, there is often a sharp contrast between a society that offers seemingly endless possibilities for women and a church body where it can feel as though more doors are closed for women than are open. When I tell people that I belong to the WELS, I commonly hear “That’s the church that doesn’t let women vote, isn’t it? Why would you, as a strong and independent female, belong to that church?” Passages like 1 Corinthians 14:34 (“Women should remain silent in the churches…”) and 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man…”) sound archaic and outdated to our modern ears. I’ll be honest: these passages tend to make me bristle, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this initial reaction to them.

But that’s not the intent of these passages, and that certainly wasn’t God’s intent in establishing unique callings for men and women. It’s so easy to forget why God designed men and women the way that he did. It was a design instituted in a perfect world at the very dawn of time, a design intended to maintain order in this newly created world, a design that allowed Adam and Eve to complement each other and work together as partners without any hint of superiority or inferiority in God’s eyes. In short, God established his design for men and women to bring them blessings.

Our world is no longer perfect, however, and this imperfection shows itself in all aspects of life—including in our rebellion against embracing and living out our unique callings. In the home, in the church, in the world, we may covet the calling we don’t have and fixate on what we can’t do. We might chafe against what feels at times like an outdated and misogynistic system—a system sometimes seems to stand in contrast to the world’s empowerment of women—and we are susceptible to losing sight of the blessings God intended to impart.

Our unique callings once again become a blessing rather than a burden, and we once again learn to balance the beauty of God’s design with its implementation in today’s modern world.

What’s the antidote to these sinful reactions? It’s simple yet profound: time spent in the Word. Careful study of the passages surrounding the unique callings of men and women reminds us anew of the perfection of God’s design—the design of our Father God, the one who loves us and who planned for our salvation from eternity. Our unique callings once again become a blessing rather than a burden, and we once again learn to balance the beauty of God’s design with its implementation in today’s modern world.

This devotional series is intended to guide and assist you in that journey of spending time in the Word. Throughout the summer, we’ll be looking at the unique callings of men and women through related but differing lenses. Each week, we’ll bring you two devotions: first, a devotion examining a timeless biblical principle—a doctrine that has remained constant since its verbal inspiration by the Holy Spirit, a foundational teaching that is crucial to understand; and second, a devotion diving deeper into applications—specific ways in which these principles play out in our lives, ways that look different both from biblical times to now and from one modern situation to another.

Permit me one final note…we at WELS Women’s Ministry are incredibly excited about this devotional series. We are so thankful for the opportunity to share our thoughts on the unique callings of men and women—thoughts of confessional Lutheran women, thoughts that are thoroughly grounded in and shaped by study of the Word. Our prayer for this series is simple: that it might be as beneficial for you as it has been for us. May God richly bless our journey together this summer!

For Further Reflection

Meditate on or write about your personal experience with the doctrine of the unique callings of men and women. How has this doctrine been a blessing to you? How have you struggled with it?

Closing Prayer

Lord God, all of your designs are intended to bring us blessings. Yet in a sinful world, we still struggle with some of these designs and fail to bask in the blessings you so eagerly desire to bring us. Keep these blessings in front of us as we study the unique callings of men and women. Through your Word, increase our understanding of and our appreciation for our unique callings, and help us always to use our various callings and vocations to serve you and those around us. Amen.

 

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

Subscribe to receive Reflections on Our Unique Callings in your e-mail inbox.

Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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