(August 26, 2021) Maureen McQuillan reflects…
Sounds quite a mouthful of a title! But allow me to lead up to something I consider very important…
What a joy pre-lockdown when our darling granddaughter, Bonnie-Jane Hoseini would pop round with our precious little great-granddaughter, Avaleigh Grace.
It was great to catch up and see how quickly she is growing and developing.
Now five months old, Avaleigh is at the grabbing stage… spoons, whatever. Last time I saw her, as I held her in my arms, after a high-five (yes, a high-five!) she reached out and grabbed my left hoop earring.
Mesmerised with the bright gold colour, she was endeavouring to get it off!
Yes, it was fun. But it reminded me of a confronting incident that happened many, many years ago that wasn’t funny.
Let me share something personal here…
We happened to find a recent YouTube Sunday service of the church back home in Northern Ireland that I attended for years when I was young.
I was surprised to note that the youngish girl in the worship team had a ring in her nose. Now that in itself didn’t faze me, but instantly brought back the memory of the Sunday morning decades ago when I was a very young teenager and feeling quite pleased about my first earrings, a pretty small pair of white porcelain flower ones.
Can you imagine the sudden shock I experienced when an elder, a tall gentleman, stopped me, stared down at little five-feet-nothing me and pointing to my tiny earrings, said quite seriously, ‘You’re a Jezebel, wearing those!’ I was shaken, being chastised by this elder and thinking I was going to be thrown out of the church. Then he added, demandingly, ‘Young Christian girls don’t wear earrings! Get them off at once!’
Stunned, I moved away and sat down. Can you imagine how I felt? I knew all about that evil queen Jezebel who killed God’s servants, rather than assist them! (1 Kings 16ff).
Concerned, that unexpected encounter had me thinking for a few moments. But then I smiled and got over it, determined to enjoy the service. Why? Because I knew wearing earrings had nothing to do with my commitment to Jesus, would not hold me back in any way in my relationship with my Saviour and serving him!
Now, as I watched this recent TV segment, I couldn’t help but wonder what that elder, if still around, would think and say to this young 2021 girl with a nose ring, upfront with the worship team. Probably nothing these days!
Jesus warned against hasty judging in Matthew 7. Yet there are still some men (and sadly, women too!) who criticise – judge – females who don’t line up with what they expect a woman’s role or standards to be in churches.
Yet the reality is that women have been ministering successfully in various roles, including church leadership and ‘up front’ eg preaching/teaching from the pulpit for decades! It amazes me that in this modern age, there are still those (men and women) who think females should not be holding important roles.
In his article this month*, Brain Bell highlights several women (Luke 8:1-3, 24:10 and Romans 16), some with low reputations (and not about earrings or nose-rings), who ministered to Jesus and his disciples when they had opportunity and no one, especially our Lord, objected!
Without getting into any deep, argumentative issues, especially about the extent of what ‘ministering’ (diakoneō) really means, one very important aspect comes clearly to me…
If Jesus didn’t mind those females ministering to him and his disciples, helping his ministry back then, would he object to women helping in any ministry way today? Of course not!
Think about those women around Jesus. His own mother, friends, outcasts of society… they had one major thing in common: they cared! This then is what I want to highlight…
Unique logical caring…
‘Care’ basically means ‘providing what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.’ That’s what those women did for Jesus and his disciples – as would others later in church history as they too ministered to those who followed him in proclaiming the gospel.
Is it really unusual that such concerned care by women is mentioned in scripture? Those who wrote the gospels and the epistles just had to write something special honouring them! Even in the Old Testament too. One could say, to modernise the context, that those women grabbed golden opportunities to serve their Lord.
I’d like to highlight something here that I’ve never before heard talked about or seen written about … I believe that this unique female caring is due to a special attribute that all women have, even those not yet married and with children – the logical mothering instinct!
This is not a weakness but something very strong that God gave to women… a special ability – instinct – whereby we just know that we know logically what is needed, what to say or not say, do or not do, commend, be compassionate about and much more. And this instinct is towards anyone… adults, not just children! It’s a natural.
A thoughtful God!
Such wanting to contribute, to minister, to help, goes back to God deciding that man should not be alone, that he needed a helper, a ‘help mate’ (Genesis 2:18ff, ezer, meaning assistant). How thoughtful was God desiring men and women to work together!
I well remember the Bible college night when the dean, Dr Barry Chant prophesied over various students. He gave me that Genesis word about being a help mate, initially for my husband, Robert.
At first I wondered about this. But after college graduation we immediately planted a church and over ensuing years the Lord took us on to minister around, even overseas, in itinerant ministry. And in all this time I have indeed been a helper not only to Robert but to many others all in kingdom service and would minister in my own right.
Caring Christian women
Such females automatically seek to serve in the kingdom and it so happens that sometimes we find ourselves promoted to leadership roles… ‘upfront Bible teaching positions.’ Church history recounts how many women have helped build the kingdom both at home and in mission fields!
And I have no doubt whatever that Jesus is so pleased, even as he was comforted by the ministry of those women highlighted above and in other scriptures… some of them with reputations worse than being wearers of earrings or noses rings!
Caring is part of following Jesus… serving. Every woman should move in whatever role the Lord has called her to. And if that means ministering from ‘the front’ in a leadership capacity, so be it. Even if you’re wearing earrings!
Grab ministering opportunities!
Back to cute little Avaleigh Grace again and ‘her opportunity grabbing.’
As Great-Grand Poppa Robert patted her soft cheeks, she grabbed his fingers to put in her mouth to comfort her in teething!
May we all, both male and female, grab whatever we can do best for Jesus, fellow-workers and the kingdom and take every opportunity the Holy Spirit turns up to serve and please our God.
Women who Ministered to – Served – Jesus / Robert McQuillan’s What? Some Women Still not Permitted to Minister Today,