Monday, April 14, 2014

Can Women Fulfill the Great Commission?

by Betty Jackson

Are you busy taking care of children, aged parents, budgeting, house care, etc.?  Perhaps the thought hangs over you, “I am not doing anything to reach the lost. I don’t have the time (or energy).” Guilt may nag at your heart as you consider the Lord's command to teach the lost (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). 

In some communities, a minister’s wife may have fewer opportunities to meet non-Christians who are truly interested in learning the gospel. Piled on top of these scenarios are the sermons we hear concerning our obligations to teach the gospel. Perhaps guilt gives way to deeper discouragement.  Adding to discouragement are some brethren who may suggest that everyone should go into a foreign mission field or be classified as a “pewsitter.” (There must be senders for there to be “goers.”) 

When Cain’s jealousy warped into hate for his brother, God said to him, “...why has your countenance fallen? If you do well will not your countenance be lifted up?” (Genesis 4:6-7 NASB). Cain was angry and depressed. He could have fixed his frame of mind by changing his attitude, as well as his behavior. Our attitudes can be wrong, even towards ourselves. If we have the right perspective on living for God as Christian women, guilt and a discouraged countenance will fade. Stages of life have different opportunities and responsibilities.

How can a woman spread the gospel while tied down to young children or an aged parent? Foremost, we must realize that these are God-given obligations, not something that deters us from the Lord’s work. This is the Lord’s work! (1 Timothy 5:8) Jesus charged the Pharisees for neglecting to honour their parents (Mark 7:8-13).

As you deal with the tedious tasks of caring for children or aged parents, spiritual encouragement is a vital part of their care. Training your children in the way of the Lord will pay wonderful dividends as they grow in age and knowledge (Proverbs 22:6). The example of godly teaching your children is a light to others. Your well-trained children today will be the leaders in the church of tomorrow.

Remember that Jesus included “teaching them [Christians] to observe all things that he commanded.”  Aged Christian parents who are in the throes of suffering may need reminded that the Lord loves them. Surely your mind will turn to the “why” of human suffering. Conversation with them about the love of God, the suffering Savior and heaven will help them stay faithful during this most difficult time. The way you treat your aged parents is a beacon for good that others will admire, including those who are outside the body of Christ. 

Spreading the gospel is a serious obligation. Yet, not everyone is qualified by life’s circumstances to “go.” However there are ways we can support the work of the church in fulfilling the Great Commission. Being good stewards of our resources so that we can give as we have been prospered is important to the Lord’s cause. Financially supporting teaching works such as Apologetics Press and Christian Courier are other ways we can spread the gospel. Most missionaries in foreign fields need financial aide. The Philippian church was praised for its support of Paul, and credited with his apostolic work (Philippians 4:17).

Practically speaking, other methods of spreading the gospel include mailing tracts and teaching by correspondence courses (e.g. World Bible School). The friendly greeting of visitors who attend a worship service is part of that effort as well. You may not be part of the teaching program for those people, but surely it matters if they feel warmly accepted when they visit. Make it your “job” to greet visitors. If you are involved in teaching children’s and ladies’ Bible classes you are obeying our Commander in Chief!

Hospitality is crucial to planting the seeds of the gospel. Friendly visits around a dinner table may be the one thing that generates a listening ear to the Lord’s teaching. Note that supporting members of your congregation by hospitality is a part of keeping the saved saved! Include your children in visitation of the elderly (just keep them well-behaved and don’t stay too long!).

You may be able to take your children with you to the church building to help spruce up a bulletin board or classroom. A presentable and cheerful worship place is also a part of spreading the gospel. Though not directly a teaching program, a well-kept building demonstrates that the people who meet there care about a building dedicated for praising God, concern for his work, and those who visit. Older women may be unable to do much of the physical labor, but there may be ways to help younger women by babysitting or preparing food.

Making sure that your husband and family members are in their Sunday best for worship is another way to show respect for assembly to praise God. It takes some effort to launder and iron clothes (Yes, iron!). How can a slovenly person make a good impact upon visitors? The way we dress for worship is two-fold. Our clothing does not honor God by baring bosoms and short or tight clothes (Do you ever check the way your clothing fits from the back?) The immodest fashion of the day should not dictate Christian attire. The Scriptures ought to determine the way we present ourselves (Romans 12:1-2). Some women would truly agree with the need for modesty, but apparently do not know what modesty is! Likewise, slouchy and soiled clothing will not impress visitors with the importance of worship. This doesn’t mean our clothing should be expensive or flamboyant.

 While we do not practice the Old Testament Law, is there not a lesson in the garments of the priests under the Law of Moses? There were commandments for dressing with modesty and in garments specific for directing worship (Exodus 28). Note this comment from brother Campbell: “Worship is not a trivial affair. It is a sacred, serious, from-the-heart activity. The attitude that we show toward worship and during worship, is a matter of tremendous importance. ...  The very idea of coming together to worship the One that is ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty’ (Revelation 4:8) ought to cause us to think within ourselves that this is a special, yea, mighty special event. Dress for worship is certainly worthy of more thought and attention than dressing to attend a baseball game or throwing on clothes to go buy some paint.” (See Recommended Reading for source.)

There are communities that are so secular and so busy with every kind of activity imaginable that they do not give a moment’s thought to eternity. However, their awareness of your fidelity in attending services and being a good neighbor may open a door someday in a time of difficulty. We cannot minimize the importance of benevolence and kindness to those we meet.

Pray for the lost generically and specifically. We all know people who are not Christians, whether they are presently open to studying the Bible or not. Show kindness personally or with cards as you have opportunities. Kindness and expressions of concern to those who are weak in faith are important to helping people get to heaven.

You may never go to a foreign mission field personally, however you can “go” without leaving your community. Be encouraged by the things you are doing, instead of being discouraged by those works you cannot do personally. The work of the church involves all of us working together for the spiritual health of each member of the congregation and the spreading of the gospel near and far.

Recommended Reading

Campbell, Roger. My Savior Info. Dressing For Worship.
Jackson, Jared. Are You An Evangelist?
Jackson, Jason. Questions About Missions.
Jackson, Wayne. Dignity in Worship Leadership.
Jackson, Wayne. The Value of Human Suffering.
Lyons, Eric. Human Suffering.

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