Subversive Women

We don't like being wallflowers at the world's party. A recent study of the decline in white males' preparing for pastoral work concluded that a major reason is that there's no prestige left in the job. Interestingly, the slack is taken up by others (blacks, Asians, women) who apparently are not looking for prestige and have a history of working subversively. Neither was there prestige in Paul's itinerant tent-making. E. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor

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I liked being a wallflower until I was 22. Around then someone showed me the dormant selfishness in standing off until approached by others. He was gentler of course, but the truth is since then I have only been uncomfortable as a wallflower. Keenly aware I ought to have both feet in most situations, whenever I find myself holding back or feeling alone, I know I have no one to blame by myself.

Whenever I lead any group in a pairing activity, I challenge everyone if they don't want to be picked last, to pick someone else first. I want them to learn that sometimes ministry must be subversive. It may be a bit of selfishness motivating them, but real relationships are born every time. Every time.

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This morning I'm reading Philippians 1:12, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

What had happened to Paul was this: ship-wrecking, beating, whipping, imprisonment, and something else, subversive ministry.

Paul spent a significant portion of his ministry tent-making with Aquilla and Priscilla. It might seem a simple enough trade, but Paul kept at it while evangelizing those fool Jews and Greeks in the Synagogue. Subversive Ministry.

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This weekend women are going to be gathering all over the world. Pockets of women who understand the prefix sub, under. Some understand it as a joy, in great fruitfulness of submission to husbands and local church leadership. Some understand it as a net, holding them back from everything their soul craves. But we all understand it. The world has not been kind to women or wallflowers.

So here's my challenge to you: let's be kind first. Let's be subversive in our mission. Let's gather, in living rooms, back rooms, sanctuaries, and coffee shops, and let's pick someone else first.

Let's really advance the gospel by not wasting what has been won for us, through persecution, pain, study, self-sacrifice, and thousands of years of subversive Christians.

The truth is the gospel changed you because Someone picked you first. Someone didn't regard equality as something to be grasped, but submitted Himself to His Father, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

That's the kind of subversive ministry I want. It's a ministry the world cannot understand because it's a ministry the world hates.

Be that woman this weekend, and every weekend, and every day. Pick someone else, not so you won't be left standing alone, but because it is an expression of the gospel deep and tangible; it is lowly tent-making among scholars and pharisees; it is risking persecution among the fearful and bullying; it is subversive and sanctifying ministry. It is Christ.

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There's still time to find an IF:Local gathering and if you're a woman, I invite you to find one near you. If you're going to be at IF:Austin, I'll be there and I'd love to meet you. I'll do my best to subversively find you first, but if I don't, come find me.