Being a Bondslave of God the Father Almighty (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

Before we move on to Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Zacharias, let’s figure out what a bondslave is.

In the last blog post, Would You Have Been #BraveLikeMary, we ended with verse 38:

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

But what is a bondslave?

The first thing you need to know is that the word slave in the Bible does not include all the racial connotations that we Americans associate with slavery. Slaves in Jewish society were slaves because they could not afford to live otherwise. So Jews from Old Testament times and continuing through Jesus’ time would choose to be slaves for financial reasons.

Gentile slaves at the time of Jesus may have also chosen slavery for financial reasons, or they may be a race that was conquered by the Romans.

So, slaves were of many different colors, not just Africans. Most likely the percentage of slaves who were African would have been quite low.

But Mary was not a slave in society. She used this word to describe her relationship with God.

Mary used bondslave to express to the Lord God Almighty that she was not His servant because she was conquered nor because she was poor but that she was His servant by choice and that she would do whatever He wanted with humility.

Before I went to Uganda for the first time a year ago, I told the Lord in prayer that I would be His bondslave and promised that when I returned, I would make an outward sign of my commitment.

Based on Exodus 21:5-6, I pierced both of my ears with a second hole. Now, you wouldn’t know that my second piercing was showing my choice to be a bondslave, but I do!

It’s my reminder to myself that I will do whatever God wants with humility.

That doesn’t make me a Saint.

Trust me: daily I need to reach up and feel that second piercing to remind myself to listen and obey because telling all of you my story was never in my plan (see Faces of Abortion and Forgiveness and Peace that Passes All Understanding).

But I am trusting God that He is using my story to save women from the darkness of abortion and premarital sex (for sexual immorality is not like other sins, see 1 Corinthians 6:18 or all of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Being the Father’s bondslave is not easy, just like Mary’s choice was not easy, but God’s plans are always better than my own.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Part 2: Abortion & the Church

Dear Christian Sisters,

As the Lord has taken me on this journey of changing the conversation about abortion, I have often wondered if our church is welcoming to women who have unwanted pregnancies.

As it relates to the topic of abortion, how well are we Christians loving people?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV

Yes, we do get angry at the pro-choice movement because they are for killing babies, but do we show love and compassion (“Love your neighbor as yourself”) for the brokenhearted women who are pregnant out of wedlock?  Or the woman who just found out that her baby will likely have Down Syndrome?

I mean, who is making the decision to abort?

There’s no point in telling the babies that you love them enough to fight for their lives because they have no power. So, let’s tell the women that we love them enough to fight for their eternal lives because they do have the power to choose life.

Right now, the word “Christian” has a political connotation to it that tarnishes the Name of our Lord. If a non-believer hears “Christian” in the context of politics, does following Christ sound appealing?

A small group leader in my church makes a point in not calling herself a Christian but instead calls herself a follower of Christ. I like that.

If we want to make a real difference in the number of abortions, we need to stop being angry, politicized Christians and start being followers of Christ, showing compassion on brokenhearted women who are in difficult situations.

We need to end abortion by showing the love of Christ to women and men, not by telling them they are wrong.

The Woman at the Well

Jesus in his encounter with the woman at the well did not condemn her. He had a conversation with her. He had a conversation that led her to believe that He is the Christ and that led many more Samaritans to believe. Here is the story as John told it in his gospel:

But He (Jesus) needed to go through Samaria.

Jesus did not need to go through Samaria because that route was better or easier. Dr. Bill Creasy explains that Samaria is in the mountain range. It would’ve been easier for Jesus and his disciples to stay along the Jordan river.

(Dr. Creasy is a great resource on biblical geography and studying the bible from a literature perspective. You can get his book of John from Audible.com.)

Jesus needed to go through Samaria presumably because He knew He needed to talk to the woman at the well or perhaps just because He wanted to visit Jacob’s well.

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

There’s only one woman at the well. Now, ladies, let’s think about that. How often do you go someplace by yourself? You might liken going to the well for water back then to using the restroom today. You don’t go by yourself. All the women go at the same time.

So why would this woman be the only one at the well? She was at the well at 6 am—while all the other women were at home making breakfast and doing other morning preparations for their household—because she was ostracized.

The other women went to the well after dinner and brought their children with them. Because she knew she wasn’t welcome, she went when no one else would be there.

Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Samaritans of this time had some Jewish heritage from the northern kingdom of Israel when Israel split into Israel and Judah, but their forefathers had intermarried with Assyrians (when Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel) and worshipped Assyrian idols alongside God. Because of their mixed heritage and idol worship, Jews of Jesus’ time would not associate with the Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

I can imagine the woman staring at Jesus in silent awe as the disciples returned. Can’t you?

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men…

…not the women–perhaps because they wouldn’t talk to her?

“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”

But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”

There He goes again, talking in metaphors, making the disciples think! I love this about Jesus. He makes us think. Just goes to show that Christianity is a thinker’s belief system. Here, Jesus is pointing out that the harvest is right there at the well—and they were about to reap!

“And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

Ooh, I love this metaphor! I’ll sow—you reap. Or you sow, and I’ll reap. No matter which, we will rejoice together!

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
John 4:4-42 NKJV

So, you see, Jesus didn’t condemn the woman for having many husbands; He engaged her in conversation. As a result, not only did she believe, but many in her community believed. How awesome is that!?!

In the Church Today

Now back to today’s world. If a pregnant teen walks through the church doors, do we embrace and love her? Or do we show judgment on our faces? Do we condemn her?

Or do we have a conversation with her that leads her to believe that Jesus is the Christ? And that following Christ means choosing life?

I was once that pregnant teenager.

We went to church up to that point. Well, we did more than that. My dad was on staff. My mom volunteered in multiple capacities. I was a leader in our youth group.

But as a pregnant teen, there is no way I would go to my church. It was shameful.

It was shameful no matter where I went.

Think about the teens or young adults at your church. If any of the women in those groups were pregnant, would they think, “I’m in a mess! I’ll go to church. They’ll know what to do. They’ll help me through this, the most difficult time in my life.”

No, probably not.

Shouldn’t we go to God first when we’ve messed up? And if we don’t know how to go to God, shouldn’t we find someone who will support us, mentor us, help us turn back to God?

The Woman Caught in Adultery

It is not our job to condemn sin. Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery? To refresh our memories, here it is from the Gospel of John:

The scribes and Pharisees brought to Him (Jesus) a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.”

Caught in the very act. So where is the man? According to Leviticus 20:10, both the man and the woman are to be stoned to death.

“Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

Did you catch that? It was a setup. They caught her in the very act, let the guy go, and accused the woman so that they could accuse Jesus.

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Jesus drew their attention away from the naked woman and down to the ground.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.

Kinda makes you wonder what Jesus was writing in the sand, doesn’t it?

And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

John 8:3-11 NKJV

Are we without sin? Of course not! We have all sinned. If we were there to condemn the woman, wouldn’t the Lord Jesus be writing our sins in the sand?

We are not to condemn. We are to lead women to Christ. We are to teach her all that Christ has commanded us. (Read my previous post on Abortion & The Great Commission.)

Who of us is standing up for women pregnant out of wedlock?

We women have got to figure this out! We have got to figure out how to make the church a welcoming place for all sinners!

We are empowered women. Like the widow who demanded justice (Luke 18:1-8), we too are persistent in getting justice and should be persistent in getting justice for other women. We are gifted at hospitality. We know what it’s like to be a teenage young woman.

We are the ones who are going to make a difference in women’s lives. AND we’re the ones raising boys to be gentlemen and Christ followers.

The harvest is plentiful. We need to get to work.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

P.S. My friends and I are meeting to figure out how to make our church welcoming to women with unwanted pregnancies. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to do what Christ has called us to do. One idea is to start a chapter of a new ministry called A Mother’s Cry, which is founded by my friend Julie Mad-Bondo. Please comment below with your ideas as well.

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the Bible

Part 1: Abortion & the Great Commission

Dear Christian Sisters,

I think we are trying to advance the pro-life movement the wrong way.

Here in the United States, abortion is a political issue.
We vote pro-life,
we proudly post about it on social media,
we put bumper stickers on our cars, and
we complain about Roe v Wade anytime that Planned Parenthood is in the news or during the Women’s March.

Is all that really making a difference? Have you ever converted someone who is pro-choice because of your Facebook posts? (I have not.) Do you even have any Facebook friends who disagree with you? (I do!)

Who Are We Trying to Convince to be Pro-Life?

Let’s stop for a moment and think about who we are trying to convince that abortion is wrong. Perhaps if we really want to reduce the number of abortions, we need to reconsider our audience.

Instead of trying to convince our pro-choice-voting friends, we should convince women that God loves them so much that He doesn’t want the pain of abortion for them. I’m not talking about physical pain: I’m talking about emotional and spiritual pain.

Abortion is not just a political issue. It’s a spiritual issue.

As Christians, we are called to love God (see the Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:37-38) and to love people (see the second “that’s like it” in Matthew 22:39-40). How well are we loving women who have unwanted pregnancies?

Since women are the ones having the abortion, women are our audience. Men are our secondary audience. Yes, men can pressure women into having an abortion, but ultimately women have the control. And in our American society, women are empowered. Isn’t that what the pro-choice movement says?

Women who consider themselves pro-choice either do not have the saving grace of Christ or do not understand what the Bible says about choosing life. It’s our job to teach them.

The Great Commission

How often do you think about the Great Commission? Perhaps you think about it when your pastor preaches on it or when your church supports a missionary or a short-term mission trip.

Do you remember what the Great Commission says? Some of you just said it in your head from memory. Most of us don’t have it memorized. Here is what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:19)

Most people stop right there. But that’s not all. The Great Commission goes on in verse 20:

…teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20a)

When I hear the Great Commission, I hear “baptize them” and absolve myself of responsibility because it’s the pastor’s job to baptize, not mine.

But the Great Commission says to make disciples, and that is my responsibility.

Jesus did not say those words to missionaries. He said those words to His disciples. If we are Christ’s disciples, then we are commissioned to make disciples.

Further, we often quote Matthew 28:19 without including verse 20—teach them. For those of you who have it memorized, did you also memorize verse 20?

Our job is not just to go to all nations, not just to make disciples, not just to baptize, but to teach them to observe—follow, do—all that Jesus commanded.

Not just go to all nations. Not just make disciples. Not just baptize but TEACH! The Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20

Do we need to “go” to another nation to do the Great Commission? No. We go outside of the U.S. if that’s what the Lord has told us to do, but we stay home if that is what the Lord told us to do. Or as Jill Briscoe said it:

“You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.”

The “nations” that Jesus was talking about in The Great Commission were the ethnic groups other than Israel, that is, the Gentiles—us!

Jesus was telling Jewish believers in Christ (the first Jews for Jesus!) to make disciples out of everyone, baptize them, and teach them all they learned from Him. Not sure you believe me? Check out the definition of “nations”—ethnos—in the original Greek from the Blue Letter Bible.

We here in the United States are full of the nations or ethnic groups that Jesus was talking about. We are the “melting pot” of ethnic groups.

Jesus was saying that salvation through Him is for everyone, not just Israel. We are part of “all nations,” so those of us who are called to stay here are just as much responsible for the Great Commission as those who are called to be missionaries elsewhere (whether short-term or long-term).

So when we get angry about abortion, are we remembering the Great Commission? Or are we just getting hot-under-the-collar about dead babies? Does anger help us win women for Christ?

Perhaps instead of just getting angry, we should think about those women (and the men who got them pregnant) as potential disciples.

“Go and make disciples” of everyone—
even those who are pregnant out of wedlock,
even those who are considering abortion,
even those who have had abortions,
even the men who got the women pregnant,
even men who pressured women into having abortions,
even the babies who are born because the mom chose life—everyone, all nations, all ethnic groups.

Go (don’t sit around doing nothing) and make disciples, baptize them, teach them all Jesus commanded.

Encountering unwed mothers and fathers is an opportunity to show God’s love and to show them how to feel God’s mercy. That’s putting the Great Commission into practical terms.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the BibleAbortion & Revival