Christian History, Commitment to Christ, Emotions, Heart of the Matter, Love, Uncategorized

Heart of the Matter: Unexpected Love

August 30, 2013
Bible Teacher and Author

Cynthia: This is Cynthia with Heart of the Matter broadcast,
for women who want to obey God in a less than perfect world.

Many believe that Christianity oppresses women, that it
keeps us from our freedom. In fact, in Jesus’ day, Jews used to praise God that
they weren’t born a woman. But what does the Bible say? I have Julie Coleman
here with me today and Julie has just written a book that I just love, and it’s
called Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations With
Women. Welcome, Julie.

Julie: Hi, good morning.

Cynthia: Julie, tell me a little bit about this book. How
did this get started?

Julie: Well, I was raised in a very conservative
denomination where women were not verbally taking part in anything, not praying
out loud, not involved in any kind of leadership, and I was always told that
God would rather use a man, but if he had to he would use a woman. And I
wondered about that second-class kind of mentality that Christians assigned
women, and wondered did God really feel that way.

The more I studied the New Testament the more I saw the
freedom that we have in Christ. And I just wondered, are we second-class
citizens in God’s eyes? So I decided to study on Jesus and his interactions
with women, because he’s God in the flesh and that would give me a better idea
of God’s heart toward women. So that’s what kind of got me on my journey.

Cynthia:  Let’s just
pick one of these women. Let’s pick that woman who was the Cyro-Phoenecian
woman. Tell that story a little bit. Because he was pretty hard on her. It
seems like it anyway, in our culture.

Julie: It does in our culture. But in reality not so much.
She came to him, she was a Gentile, her daughter was demon possessed, she was
desperate, begging him please heal my daughter. First, he ignores her as she’s
making her pleas, and finally the disciples say to Jesus get rid of her because
she’s driving us crazy with all this begging and carrying on.

And then he says something really hard. He says well, the
master at the table doesn’t give the bread for the children to the dogs under
the table. A lot of people think that maybe Jesus was insulting her by calling
her a dog. Which is what Jews called the Gentiles back in his day.

But there are two words for dog, first of all, in the Greek language,
and one is the kind of dogs that would run wild in the streets and they were
unclean to Jews. Jews would not have a dog in their home as a pet. But the
other was the word for puppy, kind of like a lapdog kind of a word, and that’s
the word that Jesus used. And to Gentiles, who had puppies and dogs in their
houses as pets, that wouldn’t have been insulting at all.

The other thing to note is that that whole idea of the
master and the dogs under the table, Jesus was giving a metaphor. And you know,
it’s kind of like me saying my husband’s a treasure chest of knowledge. Well,
nobody would think if I said that that he’s walking around with a square head
and wooden skull or whatever. They would know. The idea was that he knows a
lot.

Well, that’s the same with this whole idea. Jesus was giving
a metaphor to convey an idea. He wasn’t comparing her one-on-one with this idea
of a dog.

Cynthia: You talked about how this lady was begging. Why did
he let her continue to ask for awhile? Doesn’t that seem like a little bit
unkind?

Julie: It does, until you think about what was going on in
that room. He had more in mind. He had her in mind, for sure, and he did heal
her daughter. But he also had his disciples in mind and they all had something
they needed to learn about him. And so he was using that opportunity and
weighing his words carefully, and saying things when they needed to be said, in
order for both the woman and the disciples to understand God’s intentions
toward the Gentiles.

Cynthia: This is something that I thought about when you
said that, because he’s talking about how you would not give the children’s
food to the dogs. Now, this would be a pet and I understand that, but still,
doesn’t that make it sound like that the pet was a little bit less important
than the child?

Julie: Well, you notice what she calls him at the beginning
of the story. She calls him Son of David. And so when you look at that story
she was looking at him as for the Jews. And so he was bringing her around to
understanding that he was a God not just for the Jews, but for the whole world.

She needed to learn that so she could have a relationship
with him, and the disciples needed to learn that. In a sense he was kind of,
and I hate to say this word when I talk about the Lord, but playing devil’s
advocate and trying to bring her around to that way of thinking. To understand
that God’s mercy was not just for the Jews, that he had been sent for the
Gentiles as well.

Cynthia: So the fact that he did answer her prayer, is that
what you’re saying is kind of the evidence to both of them that he just didn’t
come to the Jews?

Julie: Well, Jesus never did a miracle unless faith had been
expressed. And when she said to him, there’s always crumbs left over for the
dogs, using his metaphor and saying there’s enough for us too, and in saying
that showing her faith in the mercy of God and the grace of God, that was
faith. She was expressing faith and then he healed the child.

Jesus didn’t do miracles to make somebody believe. He did
miracles when somebody believed. It was a confirmation, rather than something
that caused faith. Always.

Cynthia: Okay. So you’re saying that that’s what he wanted
her to hear, is that there’s enough for the puppy dog as well as for the
children.

Julie: Yeah. I think he wanted her to understand that. That
God’s mercy was available to everyone, not just the Jews but the Gentiles too.
And when she got that and understood and she expressed that in faith, he healed
her daughter.

Cynthia: Wow. Because the disciples were standing there and
they probably would have had some understanding, because they thought he did
come to Israel.

Julie:  Exactly.

 Cynthia: And then they saw him do something for someone who
was not an Israelite.

Julie: Right. It was always in the plan, from the beginning
of time, that the Gentiles would be included in on the salvation of God. The
disciples needed to understand it. And I don’t think they even really got a
full understanding until Peter received his vision, long after Christ had departed
from the earth. And God just kept teaching him. No, no, this isn’t just for
you.

Cynthia: Right. Well, you think about Genesis there where he
talked to the serpent and to man about he’ll bruise your head and you’ll bruise
his heel. So he was then saying there’s going to be a battle here and
somebody’s going to win it. So there was a prediction there, and to Abraham he
says I’m going to bless the whole world through you.

So there’s a flavor of that, but these Jewish people may
have missed it because they were so focused on probably obeying the law and the
Pharisees were out there saying well, in order to obey the law you have to do
all this other stuff too. So they may have just been focused on that and not
the rest of the world, because they were so focused on their own mission.

You look at the Old Testament and you look at some of the
things that happened. The Jewish people at that time, I mean the men could
divorce their wives, they could take them into the marketplace and say I
divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you, and then send her off. And that
wasn’t an environment that was very favorable to a woman by herself.

Julie: No.

Cynthia: So the Jewish people did not get this vision of how
important a woman was.

Julie: No, no. And certainly always she’s been important to
God, but yeah. Especially back at that time and a lot of it had to do with the
Hellenistic ideas and attitudes that had been prevalent for the couple hundred
years before Jesus’ day. But certainly women didn’t have a rightful place. They
weren’t even considered to be legally qualified to act as a witness in a court
case.

Cynthia: That’s true, because they didn’t really want women
to be the one who found the empty tomb because that would have been
embarrassing. Because they thought that women would not make good witnesses
because they were too emotional and so on, and so they didn’t trust them.

So this turns all of that on its head, and I remember you
saying that as you were starting you went to a church where women couldn’t even
speak. So where does that put us now? Where do you see us now, based on what
you see here in the New Testament?

Julie: Oh, I definitely see that God, his priority is not
men, it’s all of us. We’re half the church, and this half of the church God is
planning on using us in his kingdom for his glory. It’s a wonderful thing.
We’re free. Paul talks about not being male nor female in the eyes of God, that
we’ve got that equal status in the kingdom.

Cynthia: Right. So what, then, is our place in the church?
What roles do we need to play?

Julie: Well, that’s a can of worms. You sure you want me to
open that one?

Cynthia: Go ahead.

Julie: There are a couple of verses that Paul writes about.
One is women being silent in the church in 1 Corinthians 14, and in Titus,
there’s one in 2 Timothy. There’s a couple of places where Paul talks about
roles of women. And I think a lot of those have been misinterpreted through the
years. They’ve been seen through cultural eyes that were looking at things a
certain way. And that’s a matter of personal interpretation how you’re going to
take them.

I personally look and say that Paul was not ever trying to
buck the culture that they were in. Especially you see it in 1 Peter, where
Peter was writing and saying look, you’re not here to make a social statement,
you’re here to have behavior that will attract people to Jesus Christ. And so
kind of function within what’s going on in those cultural lines.

But I think that the message of the New Testament as a whole
is what we’ve got to look at. And that message is we’ve been redeemed. The
consequences of sin have been reversed and we are free. We are free. And so we
can operate in the realm of the church with a sense of freedom and not worrying
about rule, rule. I just don’t think it’s there, in Scripture. I think there’s
principles, but it’s not another set of laws. It didn’t replace the old law
with new laws. It’s freedom that we got replaced.

Cynthia: Well, I’m noticing that more and more women are
getting college degrees, and even advanced degrees. And some of these women
don’t really want to marry or have children. They want to marry, but not have
children. And so they’re beginning to reject that role of being a mother and a
caregiver and so on.

Now, what would you say to that?

Julie: Well, personally I would say it’s a choice between
you and God. What’s God calling you to do? And look at that very carefully.
Motherhood is certainly a huge commitment, and we shouldn’t take it lightly. I
raised four children on my own and it was a lot of work. Worth every minute of
it, but I just feel like you and the Lord are figuring that out and deciding
what he wants you to do.

Cynthia: Of course, there are people who are called to be
eunuchs. If you read Matthew 19 it says that there are eunuchs that are chosen
from birth, and eunuchs who choose that for the sake of the kingdom. I think
Florence Nightingale was one of those. She believed she was called to be single
and become a nurse, and obviously she transformed the nursing profession
completely. So there are people who are called to that.

Julie: Well, I would say, generally speaking, a lot of
women, nurturing a child and being part of a family is what our need is, what
we want, for sure. But Paul did say it’s better to be single. He was talking
about in Corinthians, so I think it’s an individual thing between each person.

Cynthia: There are certainly times that is a good thing.
Paul had said, in view of the present distress. So yes, there are times that is
exactly where God wants us to be. But in light of the creation mandate in
Genesis where it says to be fruitful and multiply, obviously being a wife and
mother is a very important role and he does care greatly about the next
generation and he wants us to spend time doing that.

Julie: Yeah. I’ll tell you, if you want to be an influence
in the next generation the biggest influence you can be is on your own
children. It’s a grave responsibility, but it’s also a huge privilege to be
able to teach them from an early age who God is and how a relationship with him
is the most important thing. I feel like that was my number one ministry as my
children grew up, that they had to be the priority because that was the person
I was of most influence on during those raising years.

Cynthia: Absolutely. And you look in the Proverbs and you
see where they’re told to listen to their mother and the instruction of their
father. But that’s happened a lot. So God didn’t say it just once, he said it
repeatedly, so I think he does want women to feel like that this is a role that
they have to impact the next generation. And indeed that is the next
generation. If we all quit having children there would be no next generation,
and I think God does want godly offspring.

Julie: Yeah, certainly.

Cynthia: So, as you write this book, what kind of woman are
you targeting?

Julie: I’m just targeting that average woman who’s seeking
to know the Lord better and who really wants to know what he thinks about them.
I feel like if I did each of the women, there’s kind of a thread that started
through. Because at the end I felt well why these? There’s nine women that have
a conversation with Jesus in the Bible. Nine. Well, why them? Why those
particular women? He must have talked to lots of women if he talked to those.

And so I started looking for common things. What did they
have in common? Well, it wasn’t financial status because some were rich, some
were poor. It wasn’t whether they were Jew or they were Gentile. It wasn’t
young or old. Some were mothers, some were single. And I couldn’t really find
anything in common except for one thing. They all needed Jesus Christ.

And every one of them, and that’s why every single time he
would take their request and turn it into a quest for a relationship. Rather
than just healing the one thing they came after him for he drew them into a
relationship with him, an eternal relationship. And I just love that. That’s
what we need to know.

We need to know that it’s personal. He approached each one
totally personally. He stopped, met them exactly where they were, and then
brought them forward to where they needed to be. And that’s how he approaches
us today. He’s still the great seeker.

That’s who I’m looking for. Women that are looking for those
kind of things out of Christ

Cynthia: That’s something that all of us need to have. You
can’t have a faith for somebody else. It needs to be you having faith for you,
and seeking him for you.

Well, I have really enjoyed this conversation, Julie, and
I’m just so excited about this book. I hope there’s more of the same kind
coming because this was excellent.

Julie: Well, I’m working on it. We’ll see what happens.

Cynthia: So where can we find you?

Julie: You can find me at www.unexpectedgod.com. That is my
website and there are all kinds of resources. The book is called Unexpected
Love: God’s Heart Revealed Through Jesus’ Conversations With Women. And you can
get that, if you Google it comes up everywhere. Amazon, Christian Book
Distributors. It’s everywhere. It’s in Sam’s Club stores, it’s in Christian
bookstores all over the country, Barnes and Noble, so it’s pretty easy to find.

But if you do find it and you’re looking to use it as a
Bible study, which it works really well for Bible study groups, there’s a
website that has free resources for leaders including handouts and questions,
and articles and things like that. And that’s at www.unexpectedlove.org. That is on
the back of the book, you’ll find it on the back cover.

 Cynthia: Great. This would be a good Bible study.

Julie: Yeah. A lot of groups are using it across the country
and I’ve been Skyping with them and they’ve been really positive in their
response and said they’ve had the best discussions on anything they’ve ever
studied. So that makes me very excited.

Cynthia: Well, thank you for your time. I enjoyed this, and
blessings on your book.

Julie: Well thank you, Cynthia. It was good to talk to you.

Cynthia: Thank you.

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