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A Broom and a Tax Collector

A Broom and a Tax Collector May 20, 2021

“She cleaned other people’s houses, her own she could not clean.” That was my thought as I staggered through my own front door yesterday after scrubbing the daylights out of my mother’s adorable bungalow all morning. Her house was perfect–at least as far as being clean–and mine was like some kind of something. I’m searching around in my mind for a metaphor–Sheol? Wherever the furies rage so furiously together? The Wilderness of Sin? I’m not sure.

The resettling dust, the piles of paper and school books, the heap of shoes by the front door, the mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded, the stack of dishes by the sink, the children sprawled all over the living room cramming a year’s worth of information into their heads hoping some of it will stick before finals…no matter how much I sweep the floor or really do anything, it is always as if I have done nothing at all. There are no visually satisfying monuments of my striving.

Which makes me super excited for my teenage children to grow all the way up and leave home. And please don’t tell me (at least not right this moment) that I will miss them when they’re gone. I’m sure I will, but that is not a comfort to me as this particular academic year comes to its pathetic conclusion.

So anyway, I want to obliquely sub-blog about the continued fight between egalitarians and complementarians online. Apparently, there was some kind of zoom thing, and then a blog post about it, and now follow up tweets. If you are curious I suppose you could spend hours searching around trying to read about it all. I can’t because, as one oppressed–either by the patriarchy or by the dust, I’m not sure–I’m still trying to clean. But I did want to say something, not about the actual debate, which will continue to go on and on, but about God and his relationship to his people.

And that is that me not being able to use my gifts in the church does not in any way diminish his glory. To put it the other way, his glory is not dependent on me and what I do or do not do in the church or in my life. A person could sit in the last pew of a church–no matter his “gifting,” her age, their gender identity, his level of income, her ethnicity–and never open the mouth, and never make a peep, and never lift a finger to do anything, but if that person did it with a humble and contrite spirit, confessing her sins to God and begging him for help, and then meekly going on her way to try to cope with the stress of life…God would be glorified.

More glorified, in fact, than that person insisting on being important, or living into his dreams, or getting to have her rights, or they getting what’s theirs, or anyone crushing lots of people under the heel, or anyone making sure things are fair, or you making sure people know you’re good at stuff.

If everyone in the church was the tax-collector at the back, beating his breast in sorrow, and not a single person was the pharisee at that front, thanking God that he is not like other men, that wouldn’t be a shame at all. Of course people do have to talk–and the question of when and in what manner women might also join in is one that should be considered, though not according to anyone’s experience about whether or not they are good at it, or better than all the men, but rather based on a careful examination of the scriptures and the nature and purposes of God–but the ones who never do are not diminishing God’s glory in any way.

In fact, many obscure and unknown and suffering people around the world know that it is when everything is taken away, when you’ve lost everything and are ruined and desolate, and yet turn to Jesus and find in him a great rich providence, that though the things of this world get destroyed and lost, and the body ages and finally becomes dust and is lost in the wind, that though I sweep and sweep and sweep the floor–that that is when God in his strange and mysterious and glorious mercy is most visible to the world.

So anyway, have a nice day if you like that sort of thing!

Photo by Alfaz Sayed on Unsplash


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