Summary: As citizens of the kingdom of God both men and women worked side by side, often performing the same duties. Luke, in writing the Book of Acts, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made certain that it was underscored that women played an equal part w
WOMEN IN THE KINGDOM -
"Not For Men Only"
A Sermon by Bishop Dr. Charles C Jones D.D.
SCRIPTURE: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh : and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy (both genders) , and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:"Acts 2:17; As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.Acts 8:3; "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Acts 8:12;
How many of you can remember the period of our national history in which signs were posted in every public place for "whites only?" They were posted in restaurants, stores, restrooms, doctor's offices over water fountains these signs at that time were everywhere. Even when there were jobs being issued it was stipulated or understood that only whites need apply. As African-Americans we felt belittled, insulted and estranged from the rest of America as we approached each of those circumstances. With the distasteful memory of racial segregation clearly in mind, imagine how women must feel when they face the same types of circumstances today in the church. Instead of the signs reading for "whites only" the social order posts an unwritten "for men only" sign in the church. It is even more frustrating for modern women when they come to worship and serve God and find the same signs posted in the church.
Traditionally, men have relegated women to positions of second class citizenship and have allowed them to tread the sacred domain of the masculine world only in supportive roles. In the biblical context, much of the role played by women in the Old Testament has been underplayed. The overwhelming conclusion that one gets from reading the Old Testament is that faith, strength, courage, leadership and rewards are marked "For Men Only."
Over the centuries a great division developed between men and women as women began to assert themselves and reject the stereotypes placed upon them by men. Men claimed that women were gossipy and too talkative. Women claimed that men moved to slow and were indecisive at times. Consider the church that had appointed a man and a woman to co-chair an important church event. The man refused, saying "I'm not going to serve with a woman, if I tell her anything, the whole town will know." Not intimidated, the woman quickly responded: "By the time a man tells me something to do, the whole town will ALREADY know it." Sometimes divisions are deepened as even the smallest of courtesies are suspect. When a young woman boarded the city bus it was obvious that she was a part of the new generation of liberated women. Soon she realized that there were no seats and she stood holding her brief case in hand. An old man rose and said "Here ma'am, you can have my seat." The woman took the gesture as patronizing. She immediately chided the old man. "I realize that you are from a different generation that believes women to be a weaker sex, so you feel obligated to give me your seat. Sir, you don't have to get up!" The old man put on his hat and stood "Well young lady, I got up, but it didn't have anything to do with what you said. You see the bus is at my stop and I gotta go. As for the seat, you can take it or leave it!"
Recognizing that a barrier between men and women would stunt the growth of the church, Jesus began to attack traditional customs. He spoke to women in public and associated with varied women at wells. Paul expanded on Jesus example noting that in Christ there is either male or female. In essence, Jesus began the movement to take down the "For Men Only" signs and replace them with "whosoever will." Men and women throughout the New Testament are encouraged together as equal partners to extents consistent with the commands of God. The phrase "men and women" appears four times in the New Testament, all in the Book of Acts, showing that the first church operated with both men and women believing, suffering and serving side by side.
This text focuses on how the relationship of men and women were viewed in the early church.
Women by social custom were second class biblical citizens. In the Old Testament a household followed the lead of the man of the House. Regardless to her individual belief if the father chose to serve an idol god, the woman was obliged to follow. If he chose to serve God, it was perceived as her duty to blindly believe what he believed and change when he changed. Thus, there was no need to indicate how women stood on issues of religious conviction, they would automatically stand with their husbands. If they didn't no one would recognize them anyway. However, as citizens of the kingdom of God both men and women worked side by side, often performing the same duties. Luke, in writing the Book of Acts, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made certain that it was underscored that women played an equal part with men throughout the early church.