No Greater Joy: Paula Harrington

I was born and raised in the church. As a preacher’s kid, grandkid, niece, and sister I knew all about the Christ of the Bible but for years I was detached from the love, grace, and salvation that infuses and maintains his beautiful story.

When I finally got serious about God, I resorted to what I knew as a child. Being a Christian meant stressing over how well my children were dressed, warming a pew a few times a week, and making sure that we were there every time the doors were open. We participated in church camps, youth rallies, Gospel meetings, and lectureships. We also attended Bible classes and VBS’s and not just our own. We supported sister congregations, as well.

Being a Christian equaled being accounted for in the assembly, not in the community tending to the hurt, not feeding the hungry, not preaching the Healer to the broken, and definitely not praying with the imprisoned but present in the assembly.

That was church. That was Christianity and I was good at it. I had it down to a science. Seeking out the lost, getting involved in their lives, and leading them to Jesus, not so much. My role as a Christian was safe, comfortable, and convenient. The Sunday morning worship service was the culmination of my Christianity so I should have expected the confusion and a sense of disenchantment about who I was, but that was what I knew.

But one of the greatest Kingdom realizations for any Christian, whether male or female, is when it finally sinks in that church isn’t a place where you go. It’s who you are. That’s when your role in this family comes into focus. That’s when you’re joyfully empowered to minister to others.

Your purpose isn’t to show up to a building a couple times a week but to tell others about the Christ, to bring them in to his family, and to change their lives because he changed yours.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. The assembly is vital to the Christian family but it’s a small part of who we are and what we do. We must be a Christ-first people. We are called to teach Jesus and if we love him properly then we will love his church deeply. Sadly, you can have a church service without the Christ but you certainly cannot have the Christ without his church. It’s impossible.

Something that we, especially the women in the church, need to be made aware of and take to heart is the fact that Matthew 28:19 wasn’t written to the men only and it sure doesn’t say, “Go into all the world and go to church.”  

As students of the Word, we could waste a lot of time critiquing, analyzing, and dissecting verses such as Acts 21:9, I Corinthians 11:5, I Corinthians 14:34-35, Galatians 3:28, and I Timothy 2:11-12, or we could get busy making disciples. There are those in our communities dying in their sins while we argue over Scripture. It’s time to get serious about our mission.

What is your role as a daughter of the Most High? First, you need to realize that you were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). You are treasured, chosen, beloved, holy, and responsible for declaring the praises of him who called you out of darkness (I Peter 2:9).

But before you begin asserting your rights and freedom, remember that there is no honor in wounding the body or trashing the Kingdom. Followers of Christ are known by their love not by their soapboxes and definitely not by the destruction they can leave in their path. 

Quit feeling like you don’t belong in this family, there is no place you belong more.Discover your talents and use them for the good of the Kingdom.
Take the time to walk with others on their journey and make every opportunity to tell them about your Savior.Refuse to bow before the misconception that you need a podium to be a preacher or a passport to be a missionary. It’s a dangerous belief that is keeping too many in our family in a neutral, dead condition. Realize that every child of God is preaching something to someone. Make sure you’re preaching Jesus but be certain that you’re doing it in love and with grace. Make a covenant with those whom you worship with and refuse to let the Devil divide.Agree that you may not agree on every issue. Be easy to love and hard to offend. Remember that all you need to fulfill this wonderful mission is a passion for the risen Lord.

Whatever you do, do it for his glory and never forget that there is no greater joy than being a son or a daughter of our Heavenly Father.

About Paula Harrington:
Paula Harrington is author and compiler of the books Once Upon a Bible Class, A Common Bond, and A Sunday Afternoon with the Preachers’ Wives. A columnist for Forthright.net, her work has appeared in Christian Woman magazine, the Christian Chronicle newspaper, and various other sites and webzines, including New Wineskins. She occasionally speaks at lectureships and ladies events. She blogs at Thinking Jesus (www.paulaharrington71.blogspot.com) and can be reached at harringtonseven@yahoo.com.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

15 Responses to No Greater Joy: Paula Harrington

  1. “There are those in our communities dying in their sins while we argue over Scripture. It’s time to get serious about our mission.” Amen and Amen! Great article, Paula.

  2. “Take the time to walk with others on their journey and make every opportunity to tell them about your Savior”

    I sure like that encouragemt and practical act…and in that to remember He is walking with me …sometimes I forget that. Thanks for the post.

  3. Mark says:

    “Refuse to bow before the misconception that you need a podium to be a preacher or a passport to be a missionary.” Wow. What a great statement.

  4. jrstover says:

    Lots of good stuff in here. So many people are beginning to believe the thoughts expressed here. A revival is coming and I can’t wait.

  5. Thinking Theology says:

    Great thoughts, Thanks for sharing. I agree, we shouldn’t cause division within the locale body just for the sake of dividing and conquering, but I do think we are to show that God hasn’t eliminated two thirds (based on church facts) of his work force just because they are women. This teaching at its core is an oddity to the mission and message of Christ. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, confirms that we are ALL messengers of reconciliation. Enough of my ruminations for now. Peace!

  6. Shawnele says:

    Great article.
    Thinking Theology, no one has been “eliminated” from God’s work force. Women have just as much work to do as the men have – instead of “coveting” our brother’s job -let’s embrace our own. There’s plenty of work to be done in the roles God has given us and it is well past time for more of us to “get to it”.

  7. Jim says:

    By telling women that they can only teach little children and bake cookies they have effectively been eliminated from teaching anyone else.

    • Shawnele says:

      “By telling women that they can only teach little children and bake cookies they have effectively been eliminated from teaching anyone else.”

      If you believe that is all women do in your church, you should take a closer look.

      • Shawnele says:

        Well, either that or perhaps more teaching does need to be done on Proverbs 31, Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 5:9-16, Acts 9:36, etc…etc..

        You know, I had to ponder on what you said. First, the times when we come together as a church amount to, roughly, 4 hours a week. That leaves each person another 164/week. I know that during those hours I teach my children for a majority of that time. I teach other women (usually informally, often formally), and my husband and I learn things together – sharing as we do Bible Studies or have devotional time with our families. The fact that God, in His infinite wisdom, has stated that women are not to teach men, in no way offends me. It does not lessen the value I have in Christ. Not only that, but I have much more impact on my family’s spiritual life (including that of my husband) than any preacher or elder does. I do not find women fulfilling their God-given roles to be impotent in the kingdom of God. In fact, I know of no official in any congregation that has more influence than a mother.

        What does sadden me, though, is that you not only missed the HUGE work women do outside of the congregational setting, but you minimized what women do. I do not believe it is a small thing to teach children for, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven belong to such as they. As to baking cookies (my husband scoffed, “as if there is anything role more valuable than cookie baker”), Jesus tells us that “the greatest among you will be your servant.” Not only is the current “gender justice” movement in the churches of Christ ignoring the outright Scriptural commands that women are not to teach men or exercise authority over them, in so doing, they minimize the work God has given us to do.

  8. gal328cofc says:

    Some thoughts on the sometimes counterintuitive intersection of “priesthood of all believers” and women’s ministries: http://rudesermons.blogspot.com/2008/05/call-of-god-and-professional-ministry.html

  9. Jim says:

    I wrote that taking a stand for women who want to do more but currently are or have been prohibited from doing so. I have no problem with women doing anything and am glad to see them teaching sunday school to everyone and in more pulpits.

    • Shawnele says:

      Hi Jim,
      I guess that begs the question, “by whom are they being prohibited.” I also oppose anyone being prohibited from doing something **unless** the one doing the prohibiting is the Lord (through His Word, in this case).

      What kind of Biblical roles would you like to see women have that they are prohibited from?

  10. Jim says:

    Prohibited by actions of elders in churches. I see nothing wrong with women teaching men. I am more for gender equality.

    • Shawnele says:

      “Prohibited by actions of elders in churches. I see nothing wrong with women teaching men. I am more for gender equality.”

      I see. What do you do with Paul’s directive that women are not to teach or exercise authority over a man? By gender “equality” you mean that men and women should not be prohibited from any role that the other is allowed?

  11. Jim says:

    I think that pertained to the particular situation. Perhaps there were some women who were not too learned. I think it was specific to that time and place, not a universal law.

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