May 25, 2011

Daughters of Sarah

Fear is so very common in our culture. In fact, it is so ingrained that we don't even recognize it for what it is. It is found so often in pre-nuptial agreements, in life-insurance for our infants, in all of our organic alternatives, in our activism and in our judgement of others. We base lifestyles off of paranoia, and justify our insecurity. Fear in its subtly defines us. It is also a far cry from who God made us to be.

In 1 Peter 3, this is addressed, specifically for women.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner-self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is how the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." (1 Peter 3:3-6)

I am not writing this as an anti-feminist expose', instead, I want to focus on the last sentence of this passage. "You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." What is so important about this? Why did Peter choose to write about Sarah, and not some other woman from Biblical history? Let's look at a different passage. Galatians 4 and 5.

This passage talks about the story of Sarah and Hagar. When Abraham and Sarah could not conceive a child, Sarah arranged for her maidservant, Hagar to have Abraham's child in order to make haste of the situation. In the end, Hagar and her child were banished, and Sarah conceived Abraham's son, Isaac by the hand of God. Despite Sarah's rash decision and lack of faith, she is still the one to give birth to the son of promise-- Isaac. Furthermore, she is the one referred to in Galatians 4 as the free woman, representing spiritual freedom under grace, as opposed to Hagar, who represents slavery and being bound to the law.

What is the lesson here? What is the importance? Sarah is barren, but God blesses her with a child. She is submissive to her husband (and ultimately to God), and she is the representation of freedom in Christ. So what does it mean to be her daughter? Galatians 4 says that it means to live by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh. In this way, we are children of the free woman (Sarah).

There is something to be said about the correlation between living by the Spirit, and not giving way to fear. Aside from the fact that both of these things make us daughters of Sarah, they are inseparable in our spiritual lives. In fact, the only way to be fearless in life is to walk by the direction of the Holy Spirit. When we do so, we relinquish all rights. We let go of our own expectations and allow God to have His way with us. If we do not do this, the result is a nagging woman who lives from crisis-to-crisis and never trusts God or anyone that God places around her. If we choose to walk in the Spirit, we become loved and loving women who are able to laugh at the days to come, who's arms are strong for our tasks (Proverbs 31), and who willingly and lovingly call God and our husbands our masters.

(PS- The things listed in the first paragraph of this entry are only examples of things that are commonly, though not always, a product of fear in American culture.)

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...