Sunday, February 10, 2013
Using Women of Influence
Acts 17:12 Many of them therefore believed, including not a few Greek women and men of high standing.
Paul and Silas had gone off to Berea where they were now sharing the Gospel. They were all quite amazed at how responsive the people were and how quickly they accepted the good news. First of all they went to the Jewish synagogue and there the Jews were very receptive of what they were being taught. They spent time verifying the scriptures and many of them believed in Jesus. The news about Jesus spilled over into the Greek population. A number of the Greek women of high standing within the community first began to believe in Jesus and they carried the word home to their husbands, and they too believed.
Throughout history we find that women have had a place of influence in spreading the gospel. Whether it was Mary Magdalene at the Garden Tomb, the Samaritan woman at the well, or these Greek women of high standing within their community, women have been open to hearing and believing in Jesus and taking that message back to their homes. Over and over again we discover that the Apostle Paul recognized the importance of the influence of women in the spreading of the gospel. Lydia is the first convert to Christianity in Europe and she invites Paul to her home and there a church is born. Here, the Greek women of high standing hear the gospel and they are the ones who take it to their powerful husbands.
As humans we tend to discount the power of influence when compared to the power of position. However, God looks past all of our human structures and works in ways which best will serve the kingdom. Today's church in North America is at least 60% female. If women continue to be influential in the spiritual lives of family members -- husbands, children, etc. then shouldn't we be savvy enough to use them and empower them in their places of influence?
About twenty years ago the United Nations presented a study that concluded that women were the place to invest because they were the ones who could influence communities for good. It was recommended that the world invest in women -- give them loans, encourage them in micro-business plans, and educate them. Unfortunately the conflicts within the last 20 years have not resulted in the anticipated empowerment of women. Instead when the conflicts (wars) occurred the financial aid and assistance was not run through the influential women, but through the systems. At times the resources ended up in the hands of corrupt officials and now, twenty years later we are again reassessing the need to get the resources back into the hands of women. God knew this was the way to work long ago and yet in many ways the world is just learning it again today. The church also needs to embrace the power of women of influence for they are vital in bringing the news of Jesus to our world.
God's sons and daughters need to join together, shoulder to shoulder, structure and influence, as partners in the good news.
Lord, thank you for entrusting me with sharing the news about Jesus. Amen.