Equal but Unique
by Marilyn Miller
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26-29).
When I look at the world around me, it is sometimes shocking and depressing and sometimes pleasant and enticing.
I can’t wrap my head around why someone would change their gender and attempt to live out their life as if God made a mistake when he knit them together in their mother’s womb. But it’s happening more and more, so it must make sense to some. I can’t wrap my head around why women would make men second-class citizens, demean and disrespect them, rob them of the role God had planned for them in this world, and take that role for themselves. But it’s happening more and more, so it must make sense to some.
I can understand a bit better how women—and men—get absorbed in their career, their social standing, their appearance, or one of their other passions to the neglect of God and his will. I can see the “It’s all about me” and the “You deserve it” messages being proclaimed from the rooftops. Sometimes I fall for it myself and have to beg forgiveness. Satan can be so “in your face” it hurts, or he can be so subtle that you don’t even notice.
A Bigger Picture—Considered Sons of God
Let’s get beyond this worldview for a minute. God loves us so much that in his mercy “[he] sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts … So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:5-7). This blessing is for all believers. All are raised to the high position of an heir. None of the things that tend to mean so much in this life, things like race, gender, social standing, or wealth, make any difference in our standing in God’s family. All are equal.
To be adopted means to leave one’s natural family and enter into the privileges and responsibilities of another. So also God is the Father who in Christ graciously adopts believers into his spiritual family and grants them all the privileges of heirship. In ancient cultures, only the sons (including adopted sons) in a family were considered heirs. But Scripture tells us God made all believers, not just the males, sons of the family. As sons of God, all believers become heirs of eternal life in heaven. Ladies, this is the time to wholeheartedly claim your position as a son. Thus God’s plan brings all believers back into fellowship with him, much like what Adam and Eve originally had in the Garden.
As sons of God, all believers become heirs of eternal life in heaven. Ladies, this is the time to wholeheartedly claim your position as a son.
As we walk (and sometimes run) through life, we seek to thank God for this marvelous gift of grace. It colors our entire world. As sons of God’s family, we take on the name of that family and live in a way that does not dishonor the family or its patriarch. We call God “Abba, Father” and put our trust in that Father to supply us with all of our earthly needs and to set beneficial guidelines for our lives. Fulfilling the unique callings that God has designed for us is just one of the many ways we show our gratitude.
Worldly Challenges All Around
But Satan is not at all happy that we are honored members of God’s family. He has only our short time of grace to pull us away, he works hard at his task, and he is very good at it. He makes us see an enticing world around us, but a world where our Father is not loved or honored. Satan constantly seeks to drive a wedge between us and our loving Father, wanting us to throw away our positions as heirs.
Earlier in the week we looked at some of the ways Satan comes at us with subtle lies, showing us a plethora of things that look good, pleasing, and desirable. He employs peer pressure with the simple “everyone’s doing it” phrase that certainly didn’t work with my mother when I was a child. Then we hear the “you deserve it” message in all kinds of advertising. The old standby is “I don’t have time” for Bible study, Sunday worship, daily devotions … or any other thing that our Father uses to keep us close. Satan sends us friends that don’t love the Father and Sunday morning soccer games. His attacks are endless.
God gave women a unique calling as the interdependent and complementary partner of a head when he created us. One of the many arrows in Satan’s quiver is the message that God’s unique calling for me as a woman is archaic, doesn’t work in today’s world, is demeaning, can’t be understood, or doesn’t make use of my gifts.
One of the many arrows in Satan’s quiver is the message that God’s unique calling for me as a woman is archaic, doesn’t work in today’s world, is demeaning, can’t be understood, or doesn’t make use of my gifts.
One can somewhat see how the callings play out in the home, though not always, and our families have often taken on complex structures that complicate things. Besides, Satan likes to feed us excuses why it can’t work in any given situation.
When it comes to the church, too often we just don’t like what’s being said. I have to admit some congregations don’t allow women to use their gifts even in ways that God allows. And in some congregations, women go beyond what is pleasing to God. This calls for a study of Scripture for men and women alike, not for taking offense and throwing out the principle or pointing out how it is not in line with society.
When it comes to putting these callings into practice when dealing with unbelievers, it often doesn’t seem logical to us at all. Should a woman who has a man working for her see him as her head or he see her as his helper? Should a woman even work in a position where she has men working for her? This troubled me greatly for many years. Again this calls for study of Scripture and prayerful considerations, with input from valued Christian friends, and with an eye toward informing one’s conscience. There is no absolute right or wrong decision because there are many different good principles in play. There is room for one woman to make one decision and another to make the complete opposite decision, and neither is wrong. This principle is not a trump card that outweighs all others, such as supporting your family or witnessing to the world around you. It is one of God’s good principles that he gives us as guides for our lives. But Satan doesn’t want us to see it this way.
We are wise to study all the decisions we make in light of our position as heirs of eternal life and as members of God’s family who want to thank and praise him with our lives. We are wise to study the decisions we make, asking God for wisdom to uncover Satan’s schemes.
Are Equal Status and Unique Callings in Conflict?
We have talked about all being equal in status in God’s sight. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” from the Galatians reading above is one of many passages throughout Scripture that reinforces this truth. Everyone’s favorite—John 3:16—“For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” makes this truth emphatically clear because everyone is part of that world. Thus in God’s eyes everyone who believes in Christ Jesus has equal status; they were dead in their sins but now are alive and are his children.
In his wisdom God created man, then said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him … So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:18-22). The man rejoiced. As we’ll explore next week, being a helper suitable for the man is not demeaning or second class but is a high and holy calling. It’s a special calling designed from eternity and modeled after God’s saving help for his people.
Thus those God has called as helpers are assured they have equal standing before God and will inherit eternal life in the same way that heads will.
Thus those God has called as helpers are assured they have equal standing before God and will inherit eternal life in the same way that heads will. Since God also created the unique calling as a helper, those called to this position can be assured that living out a calling of complementary and interdependent partnership with a head is of great importance to God. While Satan frequently makes us chafe at this calling, God calls it his will, and it is meant as a blessing to his people.
For Further Reflection
- What blessings have you experienced when you have been faithful to your calling as a helper?
- Where does your congregation have room to grow in the implementation of the godly callings of men and women? How might you help? Where do you see Satan’s schemes at work?
- Where have you had difficulties implementing your calling as a helper in your life? Study Scripture; meditate on this; ask Christian friends and/or your pastor for insight. Ask God to direct your thoughts and guide your decisions.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you for making us your sons, your heirs of eternal life. We are in awe of such love and mercy. In grateful thanksgiving we ask your help in living our lives according to your will. Let your holy angels be with us that Satan may have no power over us. Let all that we do be pleasing in your sight. Help us in areas where we struggle so that your will be done. We humbly come to you in the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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