Take a moment and read:
I have already blogged about today’s topic, which you can read here. However, I didn’t have the build-up of studying women last time and hope to take things a bit further this time around.
I hope this series has been a source of inspiration and healing for women who have really struggled with their identities and feelings of worthlessness. However, I don’t think the benefits end there.
In a number of places the Bible speaks of Jesus as a “Second Adam”. Adam brought sin into the world, Jesus brought forgiveness. Adam couldn’t fulfil his role of governing the world as his disobedience led it into chaos, Jesus fulfilled his role of rescuer even though it cost him his life. Adam was the firstborn of all humans, Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation with his resurrection.
We could go on and on.
But Adam wasn’t alone at the beginning, as we have already discussed, he had a partner by his side, Eve.
If Jesus fulfils what Adam couldn’t and puts right what Adam put wrong, who does that for Eve?
What if that is what Church is meant to be? And by Church I mean the gathered collections of those who have been rescued and given faith through Christ’s faithfulness (hence the proper noun, it is a specific group of people). What if the role that Church is meant to play is the one that Eve was meant to play way back at the beginning? What if all that we have been exploring and learning about women is also about Church?
The more that I draw close to Church, the more that I experience it and grow in being a part of it, the more that I believe that this is in fact the case. But let’s not hinge it on my experience, let’s think about what the Bible has to say first.
Eve was created from Adam. God put Adam to “sleep” (bear in mind that the New Testament often talks about “sleep” as death), and then birthed Eve from his side, his flesh. Church was created off the back of Jesus’ death (which could be considered “sleep” because He rose again). Jesus talked about his flesh being broken for His disciples, who became the Church. During Jesus’ death a hole was placed in Jesus’ side, blood and water gushed out (the symbols of birth).
Eve was Adam’s bride and Paul often refers to the Church as the “Bride of Christ”. Genesis refers to husbands leaving their fathers and being united to their wives, Jesus left His Father in heaven to unite Himself with the Church. When Jesus passed the cup of wine at the Last Supper He was invoking a ritual of betrothal, which He also referred to when He promised to prepare a place in His Father’s house and return to collect His disciples.
Eve was created to be a lifesaver, a helper alongside Adam. Jesus brought the Church alongside Himself when he included the Church in His rescue plan (Matthew 28:18-20 & 2 Corinthians 5:21). The role that He gave the Church was to share the Gospel, which Paul says is the “power of God that brings salvation” (Romans 1:16); the Church was given a lifesaving role.
Are you with me yet? I find it pretty compelling stuff.
So, if Church is meant to be the second Eve, fulfil what Eve could not, what does Eve (and women in general) teach us about Church? What does it mean for Church to embody the beauty and capacity for intimacy and fierce devotion that women do? What does it mean for Church to be the crown of God’s creation? What does it mean for Church to be the bride of Christ?
The beauty of God, and therefore of women, is calming, nourishing, inviting, comforting, and inspiring. A woman’s beauty is not there to give her control over others, but to strengthen them when they are weak, allow them to feel able to enter into a relationship and experience all of its benefits, inspire others to be greater and do greater things.
What if that was true of Church as well? How do we as a Church embrace our role as the second Eve, to bring beauty to our communities? It means that a Church’s primary role is to be inviting, attractional, and welcoming. It is not the role of Church to exclude, be secretive, or keep to themselves. It means that a Church’s primary role is to be a place of comfort, nourishment, and healing; not a place of judgment, division, or punishment. It means that a Church’s primary role is to be an inspiration and draw the community around it to be greater than it would be left to itself; not just exist for its own growth and benefit.
Church is called to bring beauty to the world. A beauty that is increased when the Church is in a place of inner rest. A beauty that offers the world around it its presence, its mercy, its attention.
This is massively important, because just as a woman’s greatest temptation is to be in control, so too is the Church’s. History is plagued with Churches waging war, ostracizing the poor, using their influence to gain obscene amounts of wealth, making people feel condemned and unloved, etc. etc.
But this is not why Church was made, Jesus is the victor who conquers and defeats all things that are dark; it is the Church’s job to be a womb, nurturing, discipling, building unparalleled intimacy with the communities that it finds itself in out of a fierce devotion to them. Church is not meant to be an impregnable force, but vulnerable, open, and receptive to all.
We are not called to be Christ, but to partner with Christ in His rescue plan, strengthening and supporting His work.
We are meant to be a second Eve.
Paul refers to the way that Christ is connected to Church like a man is to his wife as a profound mystery. On one hand, we are all called to individually bring our worship in the way God designed us specifically to, which includes our differences in gender. However, when we gather together corporately, no matter which genders or how many are represented, we take on a form that is deeply and profoundly feminine.
So go, allow Jesus to be your Husband and take on the role as His wife. Go and be Eve, and all the glory (His weight and influence) that God gave her as the crown of His creation.
Like you, perhaps, I don’t have a very finished picture of what that looks like. But I do know it is the direction I want myself, and my Church, to go in. So if you have any ideas of what that might look like, or not look like, in practice, make a comment below and let’s start exploring this together!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, as always, you can listen to the preached version of this from today at Birchfield Church here.