Being informed about world issues is exhausting. The world has been broken ever since sin’s entrance, but being a millennial in a broken world means being inundated with real-time updates on the brokenness every single day. Whether through social media, the news, or conversations with others, I am constantly reminded of pressing social justice issues around the world. Syrian refugees. Homeless veterans. Hurricanes. Shootings. Sexual assault.
This weekend, my heart has been heavy with grief. I feel a renewed call to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, and to bring the light of Christ where darkness alone reigns. But in the face of such pervasive suffering, I also feel crushingly small.
In the face of such pervasive suffering, I feel crushingly small.
Recently, I’ve been rereading the book of Matthew. Last night, the next chapter of my reading was Matthew 26, and a familiar story caught my attention: a woman (identified elsewhere as Mary, sister of Lazarus) is pouring perfume on the feet of Jesus in verses 6–13. This story is repeated in Mark 14:1–9 and John 12:1–8. (A similar account in Luke 7:36–50 is likely about a different event.)
The story is short, so I’ll include Matthew’s account here:
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
I’ve heard this story countless times. Upon reading it again, I realized that despite my head knowledge of the event, I struggled to pull a personal application from it.
Jesus has already left Earth for the time being—I can’t pour perfume on him. I can only help the poor, which I already knew to be my duty as a Christian. So what lesson is there for me, as a modern believer, in this story?
Gradually, painfully, I realized that I was acting like the indignant disciple. Mary could have been out helping the poor! She could have been telling the lost about Jesus, or comforting the grieving, or any number of things besides simply pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet.
What was the point of this, anyway? What good was being accomplished by spending such an exorbitant amount of money on such a trivial thing? The truth washed over me like a cleansing wave. Mary wasn’t wasting her money or her time.
Mary was worshiping Jesus.
Dignified women always wore their hair up in public, but Mary used hers to wipe the feet of her savior. Dignified disciples made dramatic shows of charitable giving, but Mary used her money to honor her Lord. This was worship. Worship—unrestrained, unconcerned with watching eyes, unburdened by financial limitations, overcome with the surpassing value of honoring Jesus.
God grieves for the poor and broken. God commands us to meet their needs. But this is not the gospel. My ultimate calling as a Christian is not to help the poor, but to worship God in everything I do. To my shame, that is not how I live each day.
My ultimate calling as a Christian is not to help the poor, but to worship God in everything I do.
This blog may be primarily focused on advocating for biblical gender equality, but advocating for gender equality is not my calling. My calling is to worship Christ. This can be done in speaking truth and hope over his daughters, but the moment I fix my eyes on sexual assault statistics and not on Christ, I have failed as an advocate and as a disciple.
The war is already won! Death has died, sin is defeated, and Satan is powerless. As a Christian, I am called not only to proclaim freedom to the chained, but to glorify the God who has set me free.
The moment I fix my eyes on sexual assault statistics and not on Christ, I have failed as an advocate and as a disciple.
When I am so frightened by what I see on the news that I cannot recall how Jesus weeps, too, I am not living a life of worship.
When I am so angered by evil that I cannot remember how great is the grace that has been lavished upon me, I am not living a life of worship.
When I am so consumed with the temporary needs of God’s people that I forget the eternal victory I already have, I am not living a life of worship.
Sisters, when you are overwhelmed by the brokenness of this world, remember that its spirit is far less than the Spirit who is within you. When you are tired of seeing how much people hurt, remember the greatness of our healer.
You cannot keep fighting forever. You were not built for war; you were built to rest in the peace that surpasses all understanding.
You were not built for war; you were built to rest in the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Fighter, let your hair down. Kneel at the feet of your Savior. And praise him with everything you have.
There will be those who say you cannot afford to stop for even a moment. Let Jesus silence them. Let him answer their rebuke with whispered assurance that worship, unashamed, is worthy of mention in the Word of God, alongside martyrs and warriors.
You will always have work to do, but you will not always have time to spend glorying in the greatness of your God.
Thank you for bearing with my hiatus! Next week, I will begin the blog series that initially inspired me to start this blog. The first post will explain complementarianism versus egalitarianism—the two main views of how gender roles are defined in the Bible.
While I have come to identify as egal, I don’t want to misrepresent the diversity of comp perspectives while presenting my own, so I will be consulting with a moderate comp friend of mine over the next week before outlining the mainstream positions on both sides.
After the initial Comp vs. Egal post, the following weeks will go through some of the thorniest passages for gender issues in the Bible—such as Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2—spending more than one week on a chapter when necessary, and walking through the relevant theological arguments on both sides.
I hope that the following weeks will serve as a helpful entry point into the biblical gender equality conversation for those who know little about it, an encouragement for egal Christians, and a challenge to those who already hold firmly to comp beliefs. I hope and pray that we can all dialogue respectfully in Christ. Please be praying for me as I begin this series.
In the meantime, have a blessed week and worship our God!