You’re free and obligated [Women’s Thing PART III]

[We had Women’s Thing last week (was that just last week??)  Folks asked for a recording, which obvi, I failed to create. But I figured I’d do a quick series of blog posts to try to recap what we covered and why we even did this thing. Part 1 is here, Part II is here!]

I think a lot of us women are waking up and realizing that some of what we’ve experienced as women isn’t okay and has to change.  And the question that brought many to the Women’s Thing is this: what can we do to help the cultures around us reflect more of God’s view of women?

The answer in Romans 12 is simple, but not easy.  We will change the world when we know who we are and walk in it.  And the Gospel gives us both the freedom and the obligation to do this.

The obligation is clear – stop conforming.  It’s a command. God says it a million ways in the bible, but you cannot have both: you cannot please God and man.  You cannot receive the glory that comes from men and seek the glory from God. You can’t have both.

But the Gospel doesn’t just give you the obligation to stop conforming, He gives you permission to stop.   He gives you freedom by giving you a new system where you are totally accepted regardless of what you’ve done or what you’re like.  

Cause, gosh, isn’t anyone else exhausted?  Of trying to keep up? I can’t make enough money to keep up with my IG feed, I can’t be good enough at work to earn my place, I can’t do my makeup well enough, or be skinny enough, to fit in at (God forbid) church.

And Jesus came so I don’t have to.  

Jesus came to save me from having to fix who I am in order to belong.  And I know that sounds controversial to some of you, but that is the truth of the Gospel.  

Conforming is about changing who you are so you can belong.  Gospel transformation is a the call to stop conforming because you already belong.

Conforming is about fixing who you are, and Gospel transformation says that there is already a new creation inside of you who is made in the image of God and already holy and perfect, and the process of sanctification is not about becoming that person, but revealing that person.  It’s about taking off the flesh – that is not who you are – and walking in who you truly are in Christ.

You are free.  And you are obligated.  To no longer conform to this world.

Truth: it has been a hard few weeks for me, since I decided to do this Women’s Thing.  And I sat in a coffee shop the weekend before wondering why I was even doing this.  And I kept coming back to the reality that I have the freedom and obligation to operate in my true self.  

I have the freedom.  

I want to belong.  More than anything. But the truth is – and if you know me at all you know this – I feel like I don’t.  And I have felt like that even more in the past few months.

I feel like I don’t belong for a million reasons, but there are a few big ones that I cannot control.  I can’t change.

Lord knows, I would if I could.  I want to belong more than anyone.  If I could fix the way I talk, be less passionate, be less emotional, believe the right things, and look away from the wrong things, if I could rewrite my story to have acceptable sins – I would.  

But that would be terrifyingly and terribly wrong.

And thank God I can’t conform enough to belong.  In some ways – like the sinners who couldn’t meet the standards of the pharisees –  I am more free BECAUSE fitting in in this culture is off the table.

I’m free to give up.  Not because I don’t need to belong, but because I already do. Because I look at God’s processes and systems – I look at the leaders he picks and the way he operates and the people He calls – and I belong.

And I don’t just have the freedom, I have the obligation.  

Sitting at that coffee shop, a few days before Women’s Thing, it felt awful – the fear of what people are thinking about me or saying about me.  Even before the event happened I had heard rumors of how people were interpreting me teaching about women, speculating on the potential sins in my heart, warning about the danger of division.  

But, as awful as that fear felt, I knew I didn’t just have the freedom to move forward, I had the obligation.  Obligation is a terrible word.  It doesn’t feel like that.  It feels like…being compelled.  I did Women’s Thing because I am compelled to move forward in my design.  Functioning properly is a non negotiable.  I know who I am. And I have to walk in that.

And that – ultimately – is my prayer for everyone who stepped into that place that Monday night in 2018 for our first Women’s Thing.  That every woman would feel it inside of them: that burning Spirit-filled core of who they are in Christ – that new creation that is their true self.  And that they would surrender; accepting the impossibility and futility of holding back the immortal diamond of their true design any longer.

PROCESSING

  • how is God’s culture calling you to behave differently than other cultures you are a part of?
  • what would look different in your life if you embraced the fullness of who you are without shame?
  • in what ways are you conforming to culture out of a fear of rejection?
  • consider God’s culture: what qualities does he say help you fulfill your purpose and experience him more fully?  

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