Earlier this week I met for the second time a wonderful Vietnamese woman named Esther. She is a dynamic Christian leader, serving a network of house churches in Vietnam alongside her husband. With a particular burden for women, her hope is to see her countrywomen experience the revolution of the mind and heart that happens when a woman understands who she is in Christ. She said, ¡°In my country many women look down on themselves. They are very beautiful and sometimes highly educated, but deep down in their hearts they have low self-esteem.¡±
Much of this stems from the culture. She told of her own family in which she had nine siblings, seven of them sisters. ¡°As we grew up, our parents always received criticism from others, even some people in the church, for being unlucky for having so many daughters,¡± she said. ¡°We grew up thinking that this negative view was normal.¡±
Just like these women, though half a world away, we so easily believe the lies of the enemy and the culture. They become ingrained in our spirits in subtle, and some not so subtle, ways. They become part of our understanding of ourselves. They tell us who we aren¡¯t and who we will never be.
Esther told stories of Vietnamese women who, though committed believers or even pastor¡¯s wives for years, have never taken an active role in ministry. Why would this be?
Simply, no one has ever told them they have a role to play in God¡¯s kingdom. We get trapped, just like they do, in a worldview where we see only what we aren¡¯t, instead of what we are.
These culture lies never come from the Spirit of God. He is always seeking to remind us of what our value is because of His Son. What special tasks He has just for us to do in this life. And what we have waiting for us in the next.
Esther said that understanding the Bible is the key to women unlocking a more accurate view of themselves. ¡°When we come to God¡¯s Word we realize we bear God¡¯s image,¡± she said. ¡°The Lord loves us the same as men. The ladies I teach are discovering there are so many things that God gave the Church through women. They have never been exposed to this idea before.¡±
It¡¯s interesting that in our culture today we often hear that Christianity is antiquated and irrelevant to our lives today. Yet our ¡°modern¡± culture has left women the poorest, least educated, and most violently abused of almost every society in the world.
Yes, ¡°religion¡± often controls and represses. But Jesus was and is the great Liberator, freeing us not only from sin, but also from wrong beliefs and misconceptions.
Women are all too familiar with love with conditions, love with expectations, love with ulterior motives. Sadly, this is the kind of love we know and expect. And our experience with that kind of false love is precisely why we are attracted to the heart of Christ. He is love without reservation, without prejudice, and without manipulation. That type of love can be found in no one else.