Unity First

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:26-28

With age and experience I have learned that unity is tricky. Merriam Webster defines unity as a oneness, or a condition of harmony. The Biblical understanding of unity is not much different. In the above verse from his letter to the Galatians the Apostle Paul is making it very clear that Jesus Christ is the tie that unites all people not just to each other but to God Himself. God offers His gift of grace to all people through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we are unified, made into one body…the Church. However, as evidenced by so many in the Church, unity is only achievable as long as we stand in total agreement on all things, at all times. As soon as there is a difference in opinion, preference, or theological understanding it becomes the mission of some to tear down that which they do not agree, causing disunity.

“Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Colossians 3:13-15

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a lover of God’s Word. I also happen to be a female that holds the title “Pastor.” Few things can ignite the tinderbox of the modern Church like the role of females in ministry. Before you get ahead of yourself and settle in for a blog that will most certainly be a crusade for women in church leadership, let me stop you. It is not my job to convince anyone that what I do is ok or even right. Only the Holy Spirit can convict and bring revelation to the human heart and mind. My only job is to be obedient to what God has called me to. I once read a book where a high level church leader, who happened to be female, stated something along the line of “I never want to stand before God and have Him ask me what I did with the gifts and graces He gave me and my reply be “nothing” because man told me it I couldn’t.” That quote was game changing for me. As a female who spent my first two years as a teaching pastor feeling like I had to apologize for my call, there was freedom in knowing that I actually did not need to apologize for what God has called me to. Obedience to God need be my only concern.

This blog is not about shaming or convincing denominations that do not agree female pastors. I know the Bible verses they cite and I understand the basis of their belief. I too am a lover of God’s Word and I don’t ever skirt around those passages. I see what the Apostle Paul has written as well. Yet, I also see women like Priscilla who were high level leaders in Paul’s ministry. I see Deborah who was a judge, not just a civil judge but a God appointed judge. The highest level of human leadership over God’s people at the time. I see the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus used as the one who would bring the Gospel to a whole town of people. I see the women, like Mary Magdalene, who were the first ones to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. I see Miriam, Esther, Anna, Phoebe, Junia, etc. In fact, God’s use of women in a patriarchal time is actually quite extraordinary. However, my mission and my heart is not to change people’s minds or their theological landing strip. My heart is simply to be the evidence of Jesus in our world and to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of their theological preferences. God has so clearly revealed to me that no one…NOT ONE single denomination or theological bent of Christianity will arrive in heaven to a ticker tape parade because they were the ones who were theologically accurate in all things!! The Catholics can’t claim this prize neither can the Calvinists, Armenians, Reformers, Fundamentalists, Charismatics, Wesleyans, Non-denom’s…etc. When the fullness of truth is revealed, the grey areas of Scripture will become crystal clear. Until then we can all stand firm on what we know for certain, that is the truth that none of us can deny or dispute. When all else fades away what remains is faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world…hope that every single one of God’s commands are good and His promises are true as revealed through His Word and His Son…and love, agape or unconditional love, for the Father and for each other is the greatest of all that remains.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35

If this past week has taught the American Church anything it is that darkness is all around us. It longs to steal, kill, and destroy. God has placed us here for such a time as this. We have been uniquely positioned in this generation to be the light of Christ in the overwhelming darkness. To cling to the truth that darkness will NEVER overcome the light. I cannot help but wonder how much brighter our light for Jesus could shine if we locked arms in unity rather than squabbling among each other over non-essential theological differences. Church, we are better together!!! The enemy loves to cause dissension and disunity among God’s people. How different could the reach of the Church of Jesus Christ be if God’s children stopped demanding their own way and simply loved each other in our differences?

I no longer apologize for being a female pastor nor will I break fellowship with anyone who has a different theological viewpoint on this topic or any other non-essential matter of faith. With charity and grace we should approach our theological differences. Without malice, condemnation, or pride of doctrine we must recognize that some of brothers and sisters think differently than us and that is ok. However, love must be our motivator. In fighting among God’s children brings Satan the greatest delight. Creating a spirit of offense and pride within us, his greatest accomplishment. If he can get us fighting with each other, he distracts us from the real mission…advancing the kingdom of God!!!! If he can get us to publicly shame and discredit each other over grey areas in Scripture then he can cast shadows and doubts on the absolute truth of Scripture to those watching.

No, this blog is not a cry for equality for women in the Church…its a cry for unity in the Church. Let us love each other, let us honor one another well, let us evidence Jesus to a world that so desperately needs Him. We are the light bearers in a world flooded in darkness. I implore you, brothers and sisters, do not allow in fighting among us to be the cause of the dimming or snuffing out our light. We are a peculiar, set apart people. Washed by the blood of our Savior, empowered by the Holy Spirit, citizens of heaven here on earth to do one thing…proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples of all nations!! Let’s stop fighting with each other and get back to the mission and ministry of Jesus. The world needs us…DESPERATELY!!!