I love being a mom. Occasionally strangers in the store will express their condolences that we only have boys and I am quick to point out how much I love having boys. I love creating a home, putting flowers on the table and snuggling on the couch with books. I am deeply invested in my husband and these four boys and their good. But they are not my goal or my aim or my purpose. They are not what I live for; they are not my highest calling. My worth is not tied up in how clean my house is or how successful my husband is or how well my kids behave. I’ve grown increasingly convicted that we, as Christians, easily build an idol of home and family. Homes and families are things to steward for God’s glory, not altars where we worship or the fulfillment of who we are.
This whole thing, all of life, is about Jesus. Nothing else. There is no cookie-cutter image for women besides Jesus. The “ideal Christian woman” usually isn’t based on the whole canon of Scripture, but rather on just a few verses, pulled out of context and robbed of their beauty. There are strange ideas circulating about what it means to be a woman, so let’s recenter as often as we need to.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Pssst…that doesn’t mean seek God’s kingdom and get a husband or a baby or a new job either. Go read the whole context.)
We live in God’s kingdom now. We are ushering in His kingdom, continuing His mission, and waiting for His return when He will set all the wrong things right. We are to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching others (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to live as ambassadors, holding out God’s offer of reconciliation to the world (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). We are God’s fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9).
That is our call as Christian women (and men). We are to be transformed to the image of our Savior (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:20). We are to put on the new self that is created after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:24). We are to live out that call by walking in the truth of the Gospel and in step with the Spirit (Galatians 2:14, 5:25).
I’m afraid we often sacrifice this call for the goal of having a spotless home and well-behaved kids. We turn down kingdom work to dust for the fiftieth time this week and we ignore needs before our faces for the comfort of our tiny circle. Maybe we’ve been told that’s where we belong and all we can do, or maybe it’s because we can measure that work and count it as done when we fall into bed, or maybe we are too scared to take up the mantle of the work. (And to the flip side, if you are buried in the work of small children and home right now, that might be right where God wants you for this season. Walk by His Spirit.)
When, really, we need homes that are prayed over and set up for hospitality, for furthering the work of the Gospel. We need children who are learning to see the needs of the world and being equipped to meet them. We need children who learn how to love with deeds and not just words because their mamas and daddies do that very thing and take them along. We need children who realize they have a place in the kingdom; they don’t have to wait until they are grown. We aren’t fashioning our own tower toward heaven, exalting how awesome our families are or how neatly our linen closets are arranged; we are supposed to be growing into Christ. Real ministry is going to mess up our neat and tidy lives.
If we are going to live like Jesus, we have to leave behind anemic womanhood and move on to the full humanity we are becoming in Him. We need to be women who are equipped to handle the Word (2 Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 5:11-14, Acts 18:24-28). We need to be women who sit at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). We need to be women who relate to our Christian brothers and sisters as family (Matthew 12:50, 1 Timothy 5:1-2). We need to be women who hear and keep the Word of God rather than women who chase the things that culture, even Christian culture, says makes us valuable (Luke 11:27-28).
We need to be women who work in the church and in the world for the sake of the Gospel (Roman 16 over and over, 1 Corinthians 1:11, 2 John, Philippians 4:3). We need to be women who work hard for the good of society (Acts 16:11-15), who care for the needy and are full of good works and love for others (Acts 9:36-42). We need to be women equipped to be mouthpieces for God (Acts 21:9, Matthew 28:10, 2 Kings 22:8-20, Judges 4:4-5). We need to be women of courage and wisdom (Exodus 1-2, Ruth, Esther, 1 Samuel 25).
God’s kingdom has a place for single women, childless women, women with twelve children, married women whose husbands don’t serve God, married women who serve with their husbands, women who stay home with their children, women who are doctors and teachers and lawyers and musicians who also raise their children, women whose children are grown. God’s kingdom has a place for you, regardless of if you fit in any of those categories, regardless of what your gifts are.
We should never lose sight of the kingdom and becoming like Jesus: not for a career, not for a husband and children, not for a well-decorated home, not for popularity, not for fitting into the mold that society or the church sets for us.
Eyes on Jesus, sister. Let’s run our races well.