Throughout the Gospel narratives, it is evident that Jesus brings about the Kingdom of God in many sectors of human life. What is also notable is the value he places on women through his words and by his deeds. In his earthly ministry, not only did he redeem people back to himself but he also redeemed people to one another. One significant dimension of this redemption involved providing an alternative to dominant societal views of women. In reading Worthy, written by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher, I was able to re-engage with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ as I viewed it through the lens of the participatory role of women.
In chapters 8-10, Fitzpatrick and Schumacher describe the wide range of women, coming from all walks of life, that helped advance the kingdom of God. They also discuss Christ’s example in raising the status of women through engaging them in theological conversation, honoring them through his deeds, and defending their value and dignity. The scriptural narrative is clear that women ministered to Jesus, they supported him during the time of his ministry, they were present and attended to Jesus at the time of his death, and lastly, they were the first witnesses of Jesus' resurrection.
These insights drastically challenged the conventional beliefs of biblical times, when women were valued at the same level, if not less, than animals. In the ancient world, women were seen as unfit to be educated, objects that could lead men to stumble, and overall lesser in value compared to men. Christ’s interactions with women of his time contrasted all of these societal norms. He valued women as image bearers of God, and treated them as such. He taught, discipled, and dialogued with women. In John 4:1-38, Jesus’s interactions with the Samaritan woman at the well exemplify this redemptive pattern.
As a woman living in a world where injustice towards women still persists, this book was a great encouragement. It pointed me back to the truth that Christ sees and values women as they were created to be. In particular, it was refreshing to read the words of a man in a pastoral role calling on men in similar positions to live lives that mimic Christ in this way. As the authors put it, “What we see in the life of Jesus - his teachings, actions, and attitudes - is what true humanity is supposed to look like. It is what the kingdom of God looks like. To the degree that such is lacking in our cities, workplaces, and families, to that degree the reign of Christ still needs to have its full effect.” May it be so, and may God empower us all to live as men and women in ways that embody the dignity and agency of all humanity.