A Woman Should Learn

I wonder if we’ve missed the lesson.  

In all the arguments and pontifications about how to interpret 1 Timothy 2, about what is really the role of women in the world, I wonder if we’ve missed something hidden in its message that is universally applicable to all.

 

I wonder if we should take to heart that anyone who gets onto a platform to talk, write, or argue about God, whether woman, man, or child, first

 

“should learn in quietness and full submission.” – 1 Timothy 2:11

 

In my interpretation of this verse and the ones to follow, I believe it is quite important that the words “women should learn” are phrased in an imperative, while the words about how he "does not permit a woman to teach” in the following verse are not. (Though, 1 Timothy 2 doesn’t render that way in English translations.) If you are interested in a fuller discussion of an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 that would support women in leadership and teaching, this paper from Christians for Biblical Equality is a good read.

 

But regardless of your view on women in leadership, in the midst of all the debates, isn’t there a truth imbedded here that we have missed?

 

teacher learnerI wonder if Paul is reminding us that a teacher must first be a learner, sitting in a posture of quietness and full submission to the God he or she is talking about.

 

Too many of us, myself included, have a habit of being loud before we are quiet. We share with others before we listen to God.

 

The other habit is to only teach on something once we have figured it out. We share about our destination instead of our journey. “I used to struggle with such and such, but now, with God’s help, I have found a better way.”

 

What if more preachers and teachers and writers and debaters took the posture of a learner first, sitting in quietness and full submission to God? How would that change the tone of Christianity today?

 

We cannot judge for sure whether that is going on with each individual. And we also can’t assume that everyone will be able to get it right all the time. But what if we did more to hold one another accountable to that ideal?

 

I had the opportunity to preach at all the weekend services of my church this past weekend. It was a joy and a blessing. And though some may view it as a betrayal of 1 Timothy 2:12, I hope it was a living out of 1 Timothy 2:11.

 

I hope I was a learner first.

 

In some ways, I know I was. I find such joy in teaching when I feel it is a lesson I am learning out loud. When I walk away knowing the words coming out of my mouth were just as much God’s message to me as they were His message to anyone else.

 

In other ways, I know I wasn’t. That came out in some convicting but wonderful feedback from someone on my team. In my message, I talked about a learning experience during the summer of 1999. That’s 14 years ago, people. {Crazy!} Here’s what my team member had to say about that

 

I know it might be hard, but when stories can be more recent, it shows that the speaker is willing to STILL be working on themselves. Right? When possible, to show growth from the past two weeks might be a weightier call to action. Because we’re talking to people about how they are living their life today (and we’re supposing they need to change), but we use examples for ourselves from years ago.”

 

I LOVE that challenge. And I plan to take it to heart the next time I speak. How powerful would it be if more preachers had the courage to say out loud what they are currently learning.

 

I wonder if 1 Timothy 2:11 could make better teachers out of all of us.

 

If you would like to listen to my message from the weekend, you can find it here. Look for the “Regroup” series, and the message titled, “ReGroup: Jesus’ Community” by Stephanie Spencer. And, if it’s not clear on the audio, when I tell that story from 1999, and talk about the bossy girl who was controlling and hard to love, I was raising my hand and pointing to myself. :) 

Wonder: The Humble Submission of Jesus

I don’t think I realized how many complications there could be with pregnancy until I became pregnant for the first time. Growing life is an amazing miracle, filled with complex details that have to progress just right in order for both baby and mother to be healthy.

In my pregnancy with my first child, things did not progress just right. Something in my body didn’t respond correctly to the presence of a baby. I developed severe preeclampsia. And for the sake of my baby’s health and mine, my son had to be delivered by c-section eight weeks early.

I have noticed that at Christmas, we tend to think of Jesus as a baby, and to think of Mary as a pregnant woman. But we rarely put those two thoughts together.

Have you ever reflected on Jesus’ time as an unborn baby?

I cannot wrap my head around the Son of God existing inside the body of a human being. Perhaps since God the Father was still sitting on throne of His sovereignty, there wasn’t a real risk that something would go wrong with Jesus’ growth in the womb.

But still, it seems so remarkably humbling to me.

Jesus submitted His existence to the inner workings of a young woman’s body. He came to earth not just as an infant, but as an unborn baby. As a being that looked at first, like a little tadpole, then slowly grew arms and legs, fingers, and toes. That developed a beating heart and functioning organs slowly, overtime, as his body absorbed nutrients consumed by his mother.

I want to know what that pregnancy was like. Did Jesus kick a lot? Was He an active baby, stretching his arms and legs, anxious to break free into the world? Or was He content to rest as He waited out the process of growth?

How did His body and Mary’s body struggle together in the birth process? Were the contractions strong? The labor arduous and slow?

Whatever the answers to those questions, it is the asking of them that brings me to wonder.

Jesus did not have to come this way. He could have come to earth as an adult. Or simply appeared on the doorstep of the Temple one day as a baby in a basket.

If He wanted to, Jesus could have skipped the pregnancy and birth part.

But when Jesus chose to enter into the human experience, He chose to enter it fully.

This beginning of life dependency is something all of us have in common. We grow inside the body of another, dependent on her for care and survival.

Jesus chose to submit to this humble beginning of life in the womb. He showed us the depth of what the name Immanuel, God with us, really means.

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.