Men and Women in the Church

2019-09-22 – Year C – Proper 20 – The Rev. Carrie Klukas
Amos 8:4-12; Psalm 138; 1 Tim 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-13

Lord Jesus thank you for your word, thank you that your scriptures do not change and that you are a good God who delights in his people. Thank you for creating your human race male and female and that we are made in your image. Help us to hear you today and to delight in your good ways. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

So a week ago I began preparing for this week’s sermon. As I read the passages I totally cringed and thought about running away from preaching. I thought of sidestepping these passages because they make me uncomfortable. God’s word is good and can be trusted if ever you feel nervous about a passage of scripture do not throw it over your shoulder, do not run to cultural norms, but rather press into His word and seek out what he means. Today we are going to focus on the epistle lesson today of 1 Timothy 2:1-15. 

Paul is writing to a young leader named Timothy and giving him guidance, encouragement, and correction in regards to leading, authority, and raising up new leaders. The early church was rapidly growing and many churches were being planted and new leaders were needed in the spreading of the Gospel. Timothy’s job was to establish a faith community, teach the faith to all believers, correct where teaching was inaccurate, and raise up new leaders for the church.

 He was young and less experienced with the leading of an organization and the qualities for a godly leader. Paul was seeking to teach him about what to look for and how to deal with the specifics of his leaders and issues in his church.

Right before this passage Paul points to two leaders who have gone astray leading others from the faith and whom Paul says harshly to give them up to Satan until they come to a place of repentance. 

Paul is showing the importance of calling out inaccurate teaching and leading others away from the faith. Any time people speak out inaccuracies about the Word of God they are to be taken aside and taught the truth. They are to be challenged so that the church body does not follow them in false teaching, creating division, or quarrelling. We have the biblical example of Priscilla and Aquila taking aside leaders and showing them the whole gospel truth rather than a shortened version. 

Paul says we are to be a people about prayer. He gives a list of prayers that we are supposed to pray; supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings. Supplications are prayers in which we lift up our needs, the needs of others, and the needs of our church. Supplications can even be in the simple phrase of, “Oh Lord I need you.” There is a great song that goes; ”I need you Lord, I need you, every hour I need you. Oh bless me now my Savior, oh I need you.” This song is an excellent in the middle of the day when you are feeling pressed.

 Maybe you are in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, caring for an aged parent or spouse, surrounded by unhappy children, or feeling the demands of your job and sadness or anxiety in your heart and mind. God desires for his people to be a people who find peace in the midst of life’s storms in His presence. 

Needing him is not weak, and not meant to be reserved for the absolute worst part of our lives. If we learn to rely upon Jesus throughout the day to day then when the true trials come we will have cultivated a life of trustworthiness. 

Intercessions are meant to be cries of pleas for others. Who in your life needs to be lifted up to God right now? Who in your life is far from God, struggling in a dark season or drowning in life’s circumstances? We are called as followers of Jesus to intercede for others in their time of need. 

Sometimes we pray for years and years for someone and it seems like nothing is changing then all of a sudden God’s mercy and grace seem to break free in their lives. St. Augustine was an early church father who did great things in the establishment of the early church and he lived a life very far and rebellious from God for a long time. It was the prayers of his mother that brought him into the loving arms of Jesus. 

Our intercessions for other’s lives and the lives of our church body yield real change and growth, and as we invest our time in praying for others we change. Our hearts become softer, we judge less, accept more easily,  we welcome more openly, and we allow others to come into the midst of our lives even at the cost of our own place being taken. Praying for others changes us in ways that are good for us.

The other prayer Paul calls us to is a life of thanksgiving. Early on in our marriage we realized that we were in real financial debt, we were expecting our first child, and as I watched my stomach grow I knew I wasn’t going to be able to leave my child and work full time. I knew God was calling me to a life of raising my kids for His eternal purpose. We knew things needed to change right away and that it would not be a fast fix but rather a long, long process. 

We were going to have to climb a proverbial mountain to get out of the pit that we were in. God used the writings of Ann Voskamp and her book One Thousand Gifts to radically change my heart to see the good things in my life. I used to read this book when my littles had a nap and it broke open my tight fisted heart and showed me the joy I could experience by giving thanks. There are so many moments in our lives that we can blow by a bad attitude, a closed off heart, a sarcastic tone or an angry disposition. Giving thanks turns our tight fisted hands and hearts back open to God to experience joy, freedom, and less anxiousness. 

Paul says we are to pray these things for our leaders as well, so that they may lead quiet and peaceable lives, godly and respectable in every way. How many of us want to see our leaders live such lives? And yet how often do we hear the contrary in the news? 

God desires for us to live lives of quietness; working with our hands and being diligent about the work he gives us. The life calling of a christian is supposed to be one who seeks to live at peace with others, respectable in their life’s choices and therefore turning other’s towards God. Where you go, what you listen to, what you watch on the TV or computer, how you treat your neighbor all matters in this life. It all shapes you into the person that you are and shows the world what or who you follow. 

Paul says that it is good, and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. When Paul uses the word men here he is referring to all people men and women. God desires to redeem his people who are made in his image and he desires for them to grow in truth and knowledge. All throughout the story of redemption in the Bible we have the dance between God, man and woman. 

We have the brokenness of Adam and Eve in accepting the fruit from the serpent or snake, in which death, pain in childbirth, and broken power struggles exist between men and women. The bible and our current society is chalk full of examples of discord between men and women, between people and God. Learning the word of God, studying his commands and ways is for all his people. 

Paul says that Jesus becomes our Mediator to God and it is for all people. Jesus stands in our place before God as the Lamb once offered. Jesus gives of himself so that you and I might come and not be obliterated but rather loved, extended grace, and freedom from our sins. 

Growing in knowledge and truth takes time, study, and deliberate seeking out of wisdom. In order for the church to be holy, in order for true doctrine and teaching to be done people need to educate themselves regarding what the bible says. 

You can trust the word of God you can lean on the word of God. You can live your life by the word of God. Faith in Jesus is a safe and good way to live your life. 

There are so many ways in which you can grow in your knowledge and truth of the word of God. In our church we have an education hour on Sunday in between the two services. There is always a class being offered over in the office building. Right now Ken Posley is teaching a series on Acts.

 He is an excellent teacher who has given his life to the study of God and Jesus. He is an excellent person to sit under and learn from and a true gift to our church. There is a bible study that meets at the same time with people who have diligently studied the word of God for a long time. Go and explore with them. There is Wednesday night at 6:30pm discipleship time with eucharist. 

For those of you who need tools outside of church hours there is a website called Pray as you Go, it facilitates a beautiful time of bible reading, contemplative prayer through questions, and periods of quietness and reflection. There is also an app for your phone called She Reads Truth in which you are given scriptures and devotions each day. There is also our Book of Common Prayer which gives us a frame-work for reading our Bible, praying prayers, and being united with Christians all over the world. 

The resources are great and Fr. Chris and I can point you to so many options. The question is, “Will you give yourself to the study of the Word.” If you want to know the ways of God you have to carve out time in your life for it. Even 15 minutes a day can glean an impact in your life. 

The passage continues on to give instructions for men and women in the church. It appears that there was a heresy going around at that time in which a group of women were claiming that men were the perpetrators or authors of sin in the world. 

There were women who believed that it was the fault of men for sin in the world. The men in Timothy’s church were actually coming to a place of violence in regards to these allegations. Could you imagine it, men rolling up their sleeves in the parking lot here at church and coming to a position of violence? No way!!! Christians are to stand up for injustices and truth telling, but we are not to do so with violence. Christian men are being instructed to pray lifting holy hands to God seeking out His wisdom and living their lives with peace and godliness. 

A truly strong Christian man is one who stands up for the weak, the one without a voice, the one who is physically weaker and needs protection. Men should stand up for children, women, and the elderly. 

Paul then turns his attention to women and instructs them to adorn themselves with modesty not wearing braided hair or costly pearls or gold. He encourages them to cloth themselves with good deeds as befitting for a Christian woman. Does this mean he doesn’t want you to braid your hair or wear pearls? Paul was writing at a time when the only women seen with braided hair, costly jewelry, or bare arms were prostitutes or extremely wealthy women. If they turned to a life of faith they were to leave behind the markings of their previous life and not dress is a way that proclaims their status or sensuality. 

We today as faithful women are to adorn ourselves in such a way that shows respect for ourselves and for others. You are beautiful and your body is a gift meant to be treasured and not shared with the whole world. Modesty is truly for all people women as well as men. When you present yourself and your body in such a way as to encourage others to listen to your words and ideas and not to notice every curve of your body then you are honoring God. 

So when you dress ask yourself what is the goal of my clothes?Am I dressing in a way that reminds people that I am made in the image of God and that I bear his mark in the world. 

Paul then goes on to make the statements that women should learn in silence, be submissive, and not teach. This is a passage that has caused much pain and suffering, and has left many voices silenced over the years. Due to the great gift that we have in 2019 of beautiful Bible software we know now that the word for silence is actually better translated as peaceful quiet and meditation, and according to biblical scholar Jeremiah Coogan that word is used in opposition to violence and conflict. 

Remember the heresy being taught that men were the cause for evil in the world? Paul was not saying that women should be silent all the time but rather he was saying to stop constantly bickering and take the time to listen and learn the teachings of Christ. 

All throughout the letters of Paul we have biblical examples of Paul lifting up the work, ministry, and leadership of women. Paul directly points many of his leaders to care for these women and honor them in their work, to provide for them as a godly Christian man would do for any woman. 

The greek word for have authority over men is Authentien. This translation is not a good one as to have godly authority over something is the greek word “exousia” and is found in many places in the New Testament. Authentien however is not found anywhere else in the Bible so to understand it’s meaning we have to go to other writings at the same time. When we find it in other places it always has to do with one or two things, violence or seduction. Paul doesn’t want the women in his church to use dominance or seduction in the church to lead men astray.

 Paul is saying that Christian women like Christian men must take time to learn to be in peace and to learn the way of Jesus before they can teach. Brand new converts and immature Christians should not be teaching or leading others. You can’t lead until you have learned to be a good follower of the Good Shepherd Jesus. 

Some women in Ephesus were teaching that the men were the instigators of sin in the world and Paul used his great understanding of the Bible to remind the church of the story of Adam and Eve. 

Eve was the first to take the fruit from the serpent due to her lack of understanding and taking time to learn. Adam on the other hand was in the garden with Eve and said nothing to Eve or the serpent. He just took the fruit and ate. Both sinned and both received a curse from God. Eve’s curse was to have pain in childbirth and a longing or a grasping after her husband or relationships. Adam’s curse was an obsession with his work and a disorientation away from his wife and other future people. 

Paul then makes the statement that women shall be saved from childbirth if she continues in faith, love, and holiness with modesty. He is referring to the new Eve as in Mary and Jesus. Paul is not saying that women who can not have children are without the ability to be saved. Not one of us in this room would say a childless woman is without the gospel or the saving grace of Jesus. 

The redemption of the brokenness of Adam and Eve comes about in the form of Mary and Jesus. God comes to a young girl and submits himself to her asking her to carry his son Jesus into the world. Mary then responds to God, “Be it unto me according to your will.” submitting herself to God. The restoration of the gospel is the great dance between love, respect, and submission between man, woman, and God.  

Paul’s goal in this passage of scripture does not seem to say that women should never preach or speak in public but rather they should take time to learn, listen, and follow the ways of Jesus. Godly leading should always be seeking to walk in holiness, growing in our understanding of the gospel and scriptures, loving others, and living a transformed life. The passage directly following this one for today talks about those characteristics of godly leaders and who Timothy was to look out for as the church developed and grew in size. 

God longs to see our lives grow and transform. God longs to give us peace, quietness, and understanding in our lives. To love Jesus is to live a life poured out for him and in hot pursuit of what His word means in our lives. God’s Word can be trusted, relied upon, and used to give us direction, wisdom, and hope for our lives. 

There is not a single moment of time that you might spend reading his word that will be wasted. But there is plenty of time in our day when we waste away precious moments for what; a moment of escape, a moment of entertainment, or a moment of self indulgence? God’s word can steady you, give you peace, give you clarity, and hope in the midst of life’s troubles and sorrows. So may you experience Jesus in His word this week. May you seek out some more times in His word being transformed in spirit and in truth. To God be the glory now and forever. Amen

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