Be free! Live free! Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? It’s a catchy phrase, but how do I as a mother, wife, employee, boss, or friend actually walk that out in my life. Or for that matter, how do you in yours? None of the roles I play have listed living free as a requirement for me to consider them a job well done.
None, except one! Being a Christian woman says for me to walk in freedom with Jesus Christ.
Alright, that sounds fantastic! But I’ve heard it said, and I bet you have too, about how restricting Christianity is to women. That, as a Christian woman, I am not allowed to do this thing, associate with those people, go to certain places, wear this outfit, or say whatever I wish. Those may be the world’s thoughts on what Christianity means, but it’s incorrect.
Christianity is rooted in the belief of Jesus Christ and His teachings. A Christian is simply a follower of Jesus. Please hear me on this, Jesus came to set the captives free!
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 AMP
Prior to Jesus, everyone was captured by sin and death was the price to be paid. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He paved the road to my freedom (Romans 6:23). All I need to do to start walking out the rest of my life in that very freedom is to believe in Him, ask to be in relationship with Him, and profess Him Lord.
Throughout His life and through His death on the cross, Jesus displayed freedom for all. With that spirit of freedom came hope, healing, comfort, and above all else, love.
Mark 5:25-34 tells the story of a woman who was captive to an illness for over 12 years that kept her bleeding continuously. Because of this, by law, she was to isolate herself from the general public. Imagine that for a minute. Had she followed what society said a woman was supposed to do in that situation, she would have spent the rest of her life captive to this illness. She would have remained in line with what those around her thought she should do and remained ill. She would not have reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe the day He was passing by her town. But this desperate woman recognized freedom was on the road passing her by, so she bravely stepped out of the crowd and grabbed on to the hem of His robe. She recognized through faith that Jesus Christ held freedom for her and she took the leap. And immediately, she was made whole!
John 4:4-42 takes us to a well on the outskirts of Samaria, a town despised by the Jewish people. Yet, Jesus spent time in places, like Samaria, that Jewish society said was no good and deemed unworthy. But there at the well, someone that we know as the Samaritan woman found freedom through Jesus. He spoke to and mentored this woman that even the good citizens of Samaria felt didn’t even deserve to gather water with the town. Had she followed what society said a woman was supposed to do in that situation, remain quiet, she would have spent the rest of her life captive to her past. If she had not answered when He spoke to her, how do you think she would have found freedom? Sure, the townspeople knew everything she had done, but they were only offering her condemnation. However, Jesus offered her living water, water that would satisfy her thirst for eternal freedom. Jesus, once again, was the key to freedom.
How about the woman accused of adultery! Read her story in John 8:1-11. Do you think she would have found freedom without Christ? Of course not! Left to the townspeople, she would have been stoned to death. It was Jesus that stepped in, spoke up, and secured her freedom.
I could go on and on with examples from the Bible that show Jesus wasn’t about rule following. He was and is about love and His love brings freedom. He has sent the Holy Spirit to walk with me and to help guide me in how-to walk-in freedom.
I’m a Christian and I am free indeed.
Does this mean I can be coarse in my language, eat whatever I choose, wear whatever I want, hangout in places that don’t seem very churchy? Sure, I can do all those things. I’m free to choose! But there are consequences to every decision good or bad, Christian or not. I cannot lose my salvation by doing something that goes against what Jesus is about, but internally, I’m not going to feel good about it. I know this, and so, I try very hard to remember the price He paid. To honor Jesus’ sacrifice, I strive to do the things I know will glorify God.
For example, Jesus has taught me that along the path of freedom is kind speech, using words to lift others up not tear them down. I have also learned, as a Christian, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so I need to take care of it. Not because Jesus demands it, but because I want to honor the sacrifice made on my behalf. Because I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I want people to feel the love of Jesus through me regardless of how my outfit looks today or where I happen to be hanging out. The Holy Spirit living in me helps me accomplish these goals.
The freedom Jesus has given me makes me want everyone I meet to know that very freedom.
So, you see, Christianity isn’t about what I can or cannot do. Jesus does not care about my race, gender, or my past sins. He has a plan for me and you that is fully abundant and free of condemnation and societal restrictions. I say it’s time for us as women to arise, step out regardless of the crowd that surrounds us, drink of the only water that will quench our spiritual thirst, brush off the dust from the rocks thrown at us, and walk on the path of freedom Christ has purchased for us.
Are you ready to walk?
Written by Rhonda Carlsen
Please note all scripture was taken from the AMP – Amplified Bible
Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
in·vis·i·ble (/inˈvizəb(ə)l/) – an adjective – meaning unable to be seen; not visible to the eye.
To understand the full ramifications of the story behind the Samaritan woman at the well, let me start with a little framework to help us understand the divisive culture in which she lived. Specifically, we’ll look at the conflict between the Jewish and Samaritan people as well as issues surrounding gender.
According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, feelings of ill will between Jews and Samaritans probably went back to before the separation of Israel into northern and southern kingdoms. Even then, there was a lack of unity between the tribes of Jacob. Part of the issue was the inclusion of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as full tribe members. Though they were actually born to Joseph in Egypt, Jacob adopted them into the Israelite family as Jewish descendants. This arrangement did not sit well with most full-blooded Jews, and thus, underlying conflict brewed between the two segments of people.
After the separation of Judah and Israel in the ninth century, King Omri of the Northern Kingdom bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer. There he built the city of Samaria, which became his capital.
Then Omri bought the hill now known as Samaria from its owner, Shemer, for 150 pounds of silver. He built a city on it and called the city Samaria in honor of Shemer. 1 Kings 16:24 NLT
To help us understand and give us a rough idea of the feelings that existed between the Jews and Samaritans, we need simply look at the turf wars between street gangs in Los Angeles or New York, the hostility experienced between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the war between Serbs and Muslims in modern Bosnia, and the pure hatred of white supremacist groups towards any non-white person. In other words, even in Biblical times, there were severe racial, religious, and cultural separations. Politics and religion may have been underlying factors, but sadly, there was actual abhorrence between the Jewish people and the Samaritans, so much so that Jewish people would not acknowledge Samaritans in any fashion. They simply treated them as if they were invisible.
So where did that leave a Samaritan woman? Basically, all women in Biblical times were treated as second-class citizens. If it wasn’t bad enough that cultural and religious divisions existed, women dealt with a severe gender division. As a result, they were virtually invisible in relation to men. For example, men were not to address women in public. Therefore, to be a Samaritan woman was difficult indeed.
During one of His many travels, Jesus leaves Judea to return to Galilee and goes through Samaria on the way. Tired from the long walk, Jesus stops at Jacob’s well about noontime while his disciples were off to buy food. As a Samaritan woman comes to draw water from the well, Jesus politely asks her for a drink of water. Imagine her surprise that He was speaking to her directly as well as respectfully. Taken aback, questioning why He is asking her for a drink of water, she points out that He is Jewish, and she is Samaritan.
Unphased by this exchange, Jesus proceeds to offer her the wonderful gift God has for her, the gift of living water. Quite confused now, she questions Him about His offer seeing as He has no rope or bucket for water. She also challenged how He could offer her better water than that which came from Jacob’s well. This leads Jesus to explain:
“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14 NLT
In utter amazement, she now wants the water Jesus is offering! After all, who wouldn’t want that kind of water?!?
The beauty of this story is Jesus’ open, countercultural view and treatment of females. Jesus regularly and directly addressed women, especially while in public. His regard for the full, indispensable worth of women is clearly seen in scripture. However, Jesus did not sugar coat the sin in the life of any woman or man He met. Just like men, He held women personally responsible for their own sin.
Watch how He deals with the Samaritan woman at the well:
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” John 4:16-18 NLT
The Samaritan woman, completely engaged now and having been outed by Jesus, bravely continues the conversation. And Jesus in His kindness reveals to her that He is the long-awaited Messiah (John 4:26).
At this juncture, the disciples return and are mortified to find Jesus speaking not just to a woman, but to a Samaritan woman. Yet, they are too fearful to question Him.
In contrast, the Samaritan woman hurries off to her village full of excitement. In her haste to share what she has learned; she leaves her jar at the well. Through her testimony, many Samaritans believed in Jesus as well as many others who encountered Him during His brief stay in Samaria.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 NLT
Just like the Samaritan woman, though our circumstances or others may make us feel invisible, we are not. Jesus sees us and everything we do. Regardless of our situation, He loves us dearly and stands ready to use us if only we believe it.
Precious Father, even when we feel like no one sees us, we acknowledge you have eyes only for us and we bask in your love. We pray that you will reach a multitude through us despite our invisibility to some. Continue to cover us against the enemy, guide us through the dark times, and by your love shine a light on us making us visible to those who need it most. In the sweet name of Jesus, amen
Written by Melony Henderson
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT – New Living Translation
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The Rift Between Jews and Samaritans by Pat McCloskey, OFM at Franciscan Media
Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, translated and adapted by Louis F. Hartman, C.SS.R (McGraw Hill)