In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
– Acts /Joel –
We are the women who have seen the Lord.
We are gifted with the gifts of the Spirit. We’ve felt the saving grace of Jesus meet us in desolate places where we had given up all hope.
We’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. We’ve waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined to us and heard our cry. We’ve been healed because we were brave and desperate enough to reach out and grab His coat even though He was on his way to something “more important.” We’ve begged for scraps under the table and bested Jesus Himself in a war of words because we want Him so badly that we’re willing to wrestle Him for His blessing. We’ve sung songs of heroic redemption and deliverance while carrying the Savior in our belly. We have gotten up every morning for years and then decades to wait in the temple to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We’ve wept at the tomb because we thought You were gone forever, and then watched the whole world shift in front of our eyes and suddenly realized what it meants – that Jesus changed everything, and that one day, everything sad is going to come undone.
And you want us to take what we’ve seen and put it in our luggage and keep it to ourselves?
You want us to take our salvation and keep it as a private devotional? You want us to experience the redemption of Jesus Christ as a personal quiet time? You want us to hang on to this individual salvific experience and never ever open our mouths to declare the goodness of the Lord for everyone to hear, for all nations to hear, for the world to hear?
“I waited patiently for the Lord,” the Psalmist sings, “he inclined to me and heard my cry! He drew me up the desolate pit, out of the miry bog!” But the Psalmist won’t stop there, because the Psalmist knows that when the Lord delivers you, it is a shame, it is wrong, it is a sin, to keep the salvation of the Lord locked up inside your heart.
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation,
see, I have not restrained my lips!
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation!
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation!”
– Ps 40
I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation!
But when you guard your pulpits so carefully, you are the ones concealing the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord.
Let us preach.
I’m naive. I want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I want to claim good faith on both sides of every argument. I want to believe that complementarians have consciences that are honestly held captive to the Word of God. I don’t want to believe churches enforce traditional norms because they’re afraid of change, and defend their fear by citing Scripture out of context. I don’t want to think that cultural norms about Men and Women crept into the Church, and the Church has never examined the cultural roots of those ideas of Masculinity and Femininity. I don’t want to believe that men hold on to power just because a little power is like a strong shot on an empty stomach.
Turns out that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Turns out y’all would rather lecture women about humility than share your power.
Turns out you’d rather have nothing said about Jesus than listen to a woman say it.
Do you want the Gospel preached or not?
Look at the world. Look at the suffering, the loneliness, the violence. Do you believe that preaching Jesus Christ will save the world? Do you believe that the Gospel can change everything?
Well, here we are. We’re in the wings. Millions of us, ready to tell about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. We want to use our words and gifts and passion to help heal the world.
We’re lined up. We’re ready to go.
Will you let us preach?
Even Paul, sitting in prison, shrugged his shoulders when people wanted to preach the Gospel to supplant his power, wanted to preach the Gospel because they were jealous of Paul, wanted to preach the Gospel to take him down. Paul just laughed, and said “what does it matter? Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice!” He laughed, and said, eh, who gives a flying flip about my “status” as a leader? Who gives a flying flip who’s preaching about Jesus? Who cares?
What matters is that, with good motives or bad, Christ is preached!
What matters is that, whether from male or female, Christ is preached!
What matters is that, regardless of persons or place or culture or language, the Spirit has landed and your young men will dream dreams, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, because when the Spirits blows through we cannot, we will not, we refuse to be silent about what we have seen.
I’m not fighting for me. I’m a denominational free agent, and this conversation doesn’t directly affect me now.
But I’m fighting for my sisters.
I’m fighting for my little sisters, who are growing up experiencing the grace and goodness of Jesus, and are being taught that they aren’t allowed to share what they’ve experienced except in book groups and at summer camps and in crowds of other women.
I’m fighting for my older sisters, women who have been working behind the scenes in churches for half the pay and an eighth of the recognition, running these churches without titles and without power and without a vote and without any institutional control, and when they ask for more, are asked to “consider humility“ and “remember, it’s not about power.” It’s not lost on us, who have witnessed our older sisters in the church doing good work behind the scenes for years, that it is the people with power who are telling us that power doesn’t matter. It’s not lost on us that those with titles, power, and influence are lecturing our wise and gracious foremothers on “humility.”
Oh, beloved, beloved and afraid and anxious leaders of the church, there is more than enough to go around.
He set my feet upon a rock,
He made my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord!
– Ps 40
“But how then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Stop putting our lamps under your bushel baskets. Stop quenching the Spirit. Stop silencing the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord that we have experienced and known just like you have.
If we keep quiet, even these stones will cry out.
Let us preach.