During the month of March, you’re probably engrossed in March Madness or relishing the first days of spring. These are good things. But have you paused to ponder about Women’s History Month?
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on women’s contributions to society. As Christians looking through the lens of the Gospel, it is vital to see the impact of those who have gone before.
Why do we need Women’s History Month? The truth is that we don’t often think about the impact women have made on the church, on our lives or on the culture as a whole. But all of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, have been directly influenced by mothers, grandmothers and other women in our lives.
We experience freedoms because of women we will never know. Our faith has been influenced by women in the Bible and throughout church history.
Women’s history, then, is shared history. We must learn about our past to see how it affects the present and how it will continue to affect our future.
Why, then, should Christians care about Women’s History Month? Here are three key reasons:
1. Women are made in the Imago dei.
From the first Women’s Day in 1907 to the first Women’s History Month in 1987, there has been an increasing awareness about the influence of our women predecessors. This awareness emphasized what we, as Christians, know to be true: Women are made in the Imago dei.
Being made in the image of God means we are free from the shackles of what any given culture says we are. For thousands of years, societies have created their own ideas of women’s identity; however, rather than having to embrace the identities of the world, our identity is in the individual identities He has chosen.
Women are spiritual beings, created to worship and love God; He breathes life, making us a living soul. The author of Genesis writes:
Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. (Genesis 1:26)
We are emotional beings that feel compassion and delight in the experiences of personal relationships with others. We are rational beings who are able to cultivate our minds. We are intellectual beings, thinkers, who engage in conversations about theology and the like. We are creative beings who enjoy constructing ideas or composing a new song.
Although our desires are different, and our gifts are too, we can look across the table with a compelling boldness and encourage one another in these differences, all while pointing back to being made in the Imago dei.
2. Christian women throughout history exemplify diversity.
The Christian women throughout history don’t fit a single mold; they are different people from different places who uniquely influenced others around them.
We see Ruth in the Scriptures. Ruth arrived in Bethlehem as a foreigner, became a servant and was included in the actual lineage of Christ. Ruth’s obedience and faithfulness is empowering because God used her powerfully in a place where she was a minority. Why Ruth? God could have used anyone, but He used a Moabite woman to show His loyalty.
A woman by the name of Elisabeth Elliott lived as a missionary to the Quichua Indians, where the same Indian tribe had killed her husband. Her decision to stay with her 10-month-old daughter was remarkable evidence of her belief that God would use her.
Born shortly after the time of slavery as one of 17 children, Mary Bethune earnestly desired to get an education. When she was 7 years old she began going to school at Mayesfield Missionary School and, by the time she graduated, her teacher had given her a scholarship to the Scotia Seminary for girls. It was here where her desire for sharing the Gospel with her brothers and sisters in Africa began. After receiving an education from Moody Bible Institute, she began her career as a teacher. Though she never made it to Africa, she dedicated her life to educating black youth and telling them how much God loves them. In part because of her influence, persistence and dedication, African Americans are used mightily in the church today. Many people can now live the legacy she left of, “entering school to learn, and departing to serve.”
These three women are only a few examples of the lives of the ones who have paved the road before us; I think this is history worth repeating.
3. Women’s History Month brings awareness that leads to a deeper unity within the body of Christ.
If you take a look around your church, I’m sure you will see people ranging from doctors and teachers to pastor’s wives and lawyers. You’ll see people with gray hair and black hair to red hair (and maybe even some blue). The divisions seem more prominent than the harmony.
Despite these differences, Scripture tells us that we are supposed to be unified. The Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth,
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:7-9)
We are God’s fellow workers. His field. His building.
In the Christian community, how do we foster unity with people of all different backgrounds, desires and feats?
We listen more. We reach out more. We learn more about those around us.
WE were created for unity, and Women’s History Month creates an opportunity to reflect on and assess how important women have been in the history of the church. It gives us the opportunity to look at the present roles now and see how women will continue to be a part of furthering God’s kingdom.
He is present in all of our differences, in every mother, daughter, sister and brother; and this month we recognize the countless faces of those very women.
There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
We can celebrate this month in unity because we are one in Christ.
Women’s history is not a story of self-preservation but of unified perseverance towards God’s kingdom.
This article originally published on March 27, 2017.
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