Keeping up image & likeness

I was so moved today reading the ‘Cape Times’, two stories caught my attention, one of a 17-year-old girl who was gang raped,  all of which was caught on a mobile telephone and subsequently went  viral on the internet.  The video shows her being offered R2 (R12.5 to the £; R7.8 to $) to keep silent.   The other was a story from India, New Delhi and Amritsar, it out lined an account of two fathers, one who beat and burned his daughter with cigarettes as she was a girl – she was only 3 months old.   The second story  of a father who strangled his wife as she gave birth to a third daughter, another girl.   The UN states that a girl is 75% more likely to be killed in India than male children, it is reported by the UN  to be the worst country world on its treatment of women and girls.

I am scandalised, what violence on individuals, but more what violence on Gods wisdom in creating women, I don’t know about you, are you stirred by it ?  I am not covering up the atrocities that happen all across the world in other places either, Africa and Europe has its share as well.   I am moved as to how humanity deals with its self.   I am also stirred at the treatment of females worldwide.

Before we switch off thinking this is all happening somewhere else, thinking how dreadful but, is on another shore in another nation, let us consider our actions and perceived realities towards women.    It could be that lives are not taken in our society, but consider how we treat females different to males, surely this  is also needing to change and be addressed.

I am not looking for equality either I am asking for righteousness and justice to be shown in all things about gender.   If we do anything else we will always have a fight, so what do I mean by righteousness on this matter?   It is to discover the eternal view regarding man and women, to find out the foundational view of the Father and be in the same line towards humanity keeping the principles set in the Fathers heart towards humanity.   Let us not get involved with the argument on what is equality, but come back to what God says, then live and change to make our world conform to the view of the eternal Godhead, it really is the only answer.

Our world is on a course of elevating women I believe its time for the church to discover the right view of God in regards to men and women.    Much of our practice came from a fallen condition, patriarchy for instance is not a pattern taken from the Godhead, rather in the Godhead we see each one giving to the other, each one serving and pouring out for each other ‘Perichoresis’.     This is not about male headship or dominance neither is it about feminism, it is time to discover an eternal view and make it happen.

Let me outline a thought for you, we have in Genesis a view breaking in to a  time-space world of the requirement of male and female in the design of God.  it begins with Gods’ statement “…it is not good for man to be alone…”, I wonder what  your view has been regarding that statement?   Perhaps it was something that you were taught in Sunday school of the loneliness of mankind, Adam.  Looking again at the text, to my understanding this was a declaration that humanity did not fully reflect the image and likeness of God, as humanity was alone. This statement highlighted to us that God is never alone; for God is in covenant, therefore to be in the image and likeness of God there cannot be singularity there must always be more than one.

In the process of creation, we see Adam’s partnership in creation with the Father in naming the animals, Adam being the prophet giving word and describing god’s actions, interpreting God’s actions. It is my conviction that Adam did not simply name the animals, e.g. a lion, giraffe, etc., but working with God Adam named the DNA and interpreted God’s creation.

After this partnership God did not bring animals to Adam to see which one was compatible to humanity as a mate, that is a foolish thought in my view, as intimacy can only be found with the same “thing”, more on that to come.  Having “named the animals”, Adam – humanity, is put into a deep sleep.  Humanity/Adam was male and female at this time, and only at that point were they separated.   The reason was so that humanity could reflect the image and likeness of God, there has to be more than one. This thought challenges all individuality and singleness, establishing clearly that the image of God is found in more than one-corporeity.

God, the Father, the Son and Spirit brought about that which reflected them. There is so much we could say on this but this is not the time.

The Hebrew thought on this, taken from the text in Genesis, is that God did not take a side or a rib, but within the clay and the ruach there were already two faces present, one representing male and the other representing female.   God recreated them bringing the 2 faces to face one another.    It is from this idea we also read in the Old Testament the description of Moses, Abraham and others, of their quality of relationship with God being known as a ‘face-to-face’ relationship. Humanity is a picture of God and man having the capacity to be in a face-to-face relationship and the gift of marriage is also model of this ‘face-to-face’ relationship. I don’t know about you but I love this Hebrew picture, it paints for me the quality of relationship I have with God and reminds me that the gift of my marriage is to display this.

Now coming back to the thought above… ‘you can only be intimate with the same stuff’, can you see why Adam could not have found a relationship with animals, they were not of the same stuff.  God took that which was clay and breath and from this took the triumph of female.     Paul in the book of Ephesians talks about the picture of the bride and bridegroom, the Christ and the Church being displayed in marriage. Firstly this face-to-face relationship and secondly that Adam and Eve were the same stuff, here we have the exciting discovery that you and I having been born from above have an intimacy with God, because we are all the same stuff as God. How do I know I am the same stuff as God?    It is his desire to be intimate with me.     What a salvation!

Another thought, in Genesis 1 we have a clear pattern laid out for us, the male and female are called to display the image and likeness of God, not to establish superiority or subservient views.  The account is far more about ruling together, filling together, enlarging and advancing the ultimate intention of God together.  I would suggest that this account is an eternal view breaking in on this time-space world.   Following this through in history, we read Paul’s statement in Galatians  “…neither Jew or Gentile, male or female master or slave…” Is Paul taking his lead from the kingdom that is breaking in upon us?  Taking his lead from the eternal realm, displaying and speaking forth what it is like in the true economy and kingdom of God.  I fully understand that patriarchy, dominance and subservience has been displayed through many of the pictures in the Old Testament but this does not mean that this is what the kingdom should be like or how eternity functions.  I would suggest that Genesis 1 with a constant flow together of male and female is how we need to operate and Paul’s statement only affirms Gods creating order, there is neither, the eternal order, the invading Kingdom of God order.    Please hear me, in our fallen world clearly there are functional differences but we have to learn to be herald righteous and just and uphold Gods eternal kingdom.

If our world constantly break down and remove women to such a low-level, causing them to live dominated, it is time for the church of God to show the righteousness of God and display a different way.   In Ephesians Paul’s tells us that man should love his wife to display the Christ and the bridegroom. Has not the bridegroom lifted up the bride and seated the bride on the throne, therefore let me suggest that man’s way should be to lift woman higher than themselves for is this not what the love of Christ has done for us, and is this not true headship.  Unfortunately as men we so quickly become dominating and press women down. Men I ask that we become the liberators of women in these days.   This is not a post-modern or a modern way of thinking but it is a rediscovery of the eternal value maleness and femaleness in the image and likeness of God.

Just as Christ serves the church we better serve one another so that the bride may truly be lifted up. Is it not amazing that all across the world, in virtually every culture women are subservient, beaten; young female children are treated with a lack of value.    It is time for the eternal people of God to speak out rather than allowing perceived realities to continue to imprison. My appeal is that we become male and female, and advance the kingdom of God together, just as God would have us to do.

There is so much more to come revelation, biblically and theologically that we are discovering in these days regarding male and female.    Let us reflect righteously the view of eternity, for this is the Kingdom of God that is breaking in upon us, as we taste more and more of the order of God.

With the Fathers empowerment we will and should bring to an end stories such as we began with throughout our world, Politicians speak out, the church do not stay silent.    Wars are fought on treasures in the ground, boundaries of nations but silence regarding such atrocities as we began this article with continue. Really its violence to the image and likeness of God let us highly regard one another and be what God intending firstly n the church family then in our world.

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