Gender and Mission

406007_469211746474767_516409299_nThis week I’m looking for Tertullian at InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference. Urbana rules. Do yourself a favor and follow the streaming this week here.

In honor of Urbana, today I want to celebrate the fact that God has called men and women to partner together in mission.

Remember Pentecost?

The first believers are gathered in Jerusalem. There’s a big sound, a violent wind and–wait for it–tongues of fire. TONGUES OF FREAKIN’ FIRE. The promised Spirit has come and with that the mission of Jesus is empowered and ready to launch. In the midst of these miracles the multiethnic, multilingual community is suddenly able to understand one another. As a crescendo, in verse 12 the community asks “what does this mean?”

Good question.

Now, if I was Peter, standing up to answer that question and interpret the magnificent moment, I might start by quoting Jesus. After all, Peter had walked with Jesus for 3 years. Why not offer up a zinger like Mark 8:31-32?!?

Instead, Peter starts by quoting the prophet Joel. You know, Joel. That book you’ve never read but Peter’s listeners would have known quite well.

Here’s the quote:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

I love Joel. He had it right. In the last days, when the empowered people of God share his Gospel in word and deed, the message of salvation will be carried by all people. All people. In particular, by men and women. We’ll each be serving. We’ll each be prophesying. We’ll each be eagerly sharing the faith so that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

We need each other.

To be sure, God’s church needs help. We needs more tongues of fire. We need to understand one another across differences. And, we need to learn how to partner together as men and women in mission.

Here’s hoping that this Urbana, my 7th, will trigger a new generation of men and women who will move the mission of Jesus forward as a gender equal and reconciled community.

What about you? How have you enjoyed gender-equal partnerships in mission?

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