Men and Women in the Church (Part 2) - Radical

Men and Women in the Church (Part 2)

The Bible’s teaching about gender roles is seen by many in our culture as either outdated or outright demeaning. Drawing distinctions between men and women offends many people. However, Scripture points to these gender distinctions as part of God’s good design. In this message from 1 Corinthians 11:2–16. David Platt helps us see what it means for a husband to be the head of this wife. This kind of God-given leadership should mirror the self-sacrificial leadership that Jesus exercises over his church. This passage also forces us to consider which aspects of Scripture’s teaching apply only to a particular time and place rather than to all people in all times and in all places. Ultimately, we can trust God’s design for men and women in the church because it is for our good and for his glory.

Men and Women in the Church (Part 2)

Church & Culture: A Study in Frist Corinthians series

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to 1 Corinthians 11. If you were here last week, you know why it’s critical to have a Bible and for us to gather together every week to open it, read it, study it and understand it. And not just every week together, but to do the same thing every day in your life and to share it with others—which hopefully many of us did this past week. This is the Word of God—our lives and other people’s lives hinge on hearing, believing and obeying this Word, both now and for eternity. 

If you missed last week, I would encourage you to go back and listen to that message, or read the transcript online. Number one, because I hope it will be helpful for you in understanding the Bible as a whole, whether you’re new to church or you’ve grown up in church. And two, because last week is key to understanding the passage we’re studying today. 

Today is Part Two of two on “Men and Women in the Church” based on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. As a quick review of last week, after we talked about the authority of God’s Word in our lives and for our lives, we saw two principles for understanding God’s Word. First was the principle of history—how God reveals biblical truth in specific historical and cultural contexts. This means that in any passage, we need to ask two questions. One, what are the timeless truths that God reveals in this text which never change over time? Then, are there any temporary applications of those truths in this text which can change over time? That’s the principle of history. 

Then there is the principle of harmony, how we interpret each Scripture in light of all Scripture, especially when we come to a passage in the Bible like 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 that may be hard to understand or feels inconsistent. Maybe it feels like a contradiction. We need to explore what the rest of the Bible teaches, knowing that God does not contradict Himself in His Word. 

So with these two principles, we come back to what Bible scholars have called one of the most difficult and controversial passages in the Bible. As we read it, remember that this was a real guy named Paul, writing under the inspiration of God’s Spirit—so God is speaking through Paul—to a real church in a real city called Corinth in the first century. This means that what we’re about to read contains timeless truths from God applied to a specific historical and cultural context. So with that set-up, follow along with me in God’s Word, beginning with 1 Corinthians 11:2:

2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. 

Okay, let’s pray, in light of what we just read. 

God, we are so thankful for Your Word. We pray that, just as You inspired these words by Your Spirit 2,000 years ago, we ask You to illuminate our minds by Your Spirit today and in this gathering right now. It’s such an awesome thought that we are meeting with You right now and that You are speaking to us right now, so we humble ourselves before You. We put aside our thoughts and pray that You would help us understand Your truth and live according to it in our day. We pray that we might experience life to the fullest in You. God, I pray for the people who are here who don’t know You personally right now, that today would be the day when they enter into a relationship with You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

There are probably about a hundred different questions we could ask and explore in this text and it would take about that many hours to do so. Needless to say, we’re not going to be here 100 hours and we’re not going to be able to cover all those questions. Take verse ten, for example: “That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” That verse alone has generated so much discussion among biblical scholars and it seems like everybody understands it differently. So I’m not going to presume today to come on the scene and answer that in a couple minutes, then move on to another question, then another and another. 

Instead of spending hours together studying and exploring different questions and interpretations, I want to simplify this passage as much as possible for you. I want to show you two significant, basic, timeless truths in verse three that form the foundation for the rest of this passage. 

I’ll show you how these timeless truths are reiterated throughout this passage, then once you see these two truths, I think the big picture will make a lot more sense, both in how these truths apply to Christians who are reading this for the first time in first century Corinth, and how these truths apply to our lives today, which is where we’re going to land. With what we just read, what is God saying to us in a way that affects our lives today, this week? 

Spoiler alert: these two truths go totally against the grain of our culture today, as well as against the grain of how many, if not most, of us think. This is why last week we spent all the time like we did, because the fundamental question we need to answer before we even try to understand a passage like this is do we trust God and His Word with our lives, or do we put our thoughts above God’s Word? How you answer that question determines how you live and what your life looks like for eternity. So, here are these two truths, and I’m going to phrase them both intentionally to show you in this text what is truth from God for all people of all time—first century, 21st century, anytime, anyplace. Here they are. 

Truth #1 – God calls all people throughout all time to affirm the equal dignity of women and men. 

Truth number one: God calls all people throughout all time to affirm the inherent equal dignity, value and worth of women and men. God makes it clear that women are not inferior to men, and men are not inferior to women. Which means that if you, in your life, have ever felt unworthy, less valued, less dignified or less significant because you are a woman, or because you are a man, that did not come from God. God gives equal dignity, worth, and value to both women and men. 

I should add, although it’s not the specific focus of this text, but in light of Juneteenth this coming week, God calls all people throughout all time to affirm the equal dignity of women and men, regardless of the color of your skin. Which means that if you have ever felt unworthy, less valued or less dignified because of the color of your skin, that also did not come from God. 

So let me show you this, particularly as it relates to women and men in verse three. The Bible says, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” Now, you might read that and wonder, “Doesn’t that verse, along with other language in this passage, teach that a husband is superior to his wife?” The answer to that question, in this passage and all over the Bible, is categorically no. Let me show you. 

The key word in this passage is “head.” You see it three times. “The head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, the head of Christ is God.” So, does “head” signify superior worth here? Well, let’s look at the three times it’s used. What is God’s Word saying here? The first time it says, “…the head of every man is Christ…” So, could head signify superior worth here? It seems like it could. Jesus is worthy of worship in a way that no other man is. So maybe head does signify worth. But let’s keep going. 

The second phrase is “…the head of a wife is her husband…” So could head signify superior worth here based on comparison with the first phrase? Maybe. But then let’s go to the third phrase, which says that “…the head of Christ is God.” As soon as we read that phrase, we realize “head” is definitely not talking about superiority, because Jesus Christ, God the Son, possesses equal dignity and divinity with God the Father. 

This is a mystery we could spend hours talking about today, but this phrase in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is talking about two Persons in the Trinity: God the Father and God the Son, Who, along with God the Spirit, are fully God and are equally worthy and dignified. So clearly “head” does not mean superior worth. This means this passage is not teaching that a wife is inferior to her husband, or a husband is superior to his wife. This passage actually guards against that by saying later in verses 11-12, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so now man is born of woman. And all things are from God.” This is a picture of mutual dependence and dignity. 

Which then brings us to the principle of harmony. Remember, we interpret each Scripture in light of all Scripture. So does what we’re seeing here, when it comes to mutual dignity in 1 Corinthians 11, square with the rest of the Bible? The answer to that question is, “Absolutely it does.” From the very beginning of the Bible, in the very first chapter of God’s Word, Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” 

Male and female, both created in the image of God. Men and woman alike, equally created like God. Not divine, but with the dignity of God’s image upon each one of our lives, all of us with moral and intellectual and relational capacities to speak, work and love in ways that resemble our Creator God. This dignity for both women and men is affirmed throughout the rest of the Bible, most notably in the ministry of Jesus, Who specifically dignified women in ways that were extremely countercultural in His day, all the way to Paul, who wrote 1 Corinthians 11 and who repeatedly dignified women in his writings and his ministry. 

So you put it all together and it’s pretty clear. God calls all people throughout all time to affirm the equal dignity of women and men. That’s our first timeless truth. But how are we to understand, then, all this language like we see in verse seven, about man being the image and glory of God and woman being the glory of man? Or verse nine, woman being created for man? That leads us back to verse three and our second timeless truth in this text. 

Truth #2 – God calls all people throughout all time to celebrate the unique distinctions between women and men. 

In this passage, God is calling us in any time and any place to celebrate the unique distinctions between women and men in a variety of ways. I want to show you three ways in just this passage that God calls us to celebrate unique distinctions between women and men. 

First, God calls all people throughout all time to celebrate God’s distinct design of our bodies. God has physically designed women and men differently in a way that we should celebrate, not negate. We need to hear this word in a historical and cultural context today, where we, adults and children alike, are actively encouraged to question or deny God’s good and distinct design of our bodies as male or female. 

We walked through a whole series on this a couple months ago. I would encourage you to go back and listen to that. We created a whole page of resources at mcleanbible.org/sexuality for you to have amidst a sea of cultural confusion. Even here in 1 Corinthians 11:14, the Bible talks about what “nature itself” teaches about what it means to be a man or a woman. 

So regarding every man and woman, male and female today, God says in His Word that He has formed and crafted your body personally and wonderfully. God loves you and God loves your body. We saw this in 1 Corinthians 6. God is for your body. God desires the earthly and eternal good of your body. So trust God and His Word, not this confused and broken world, and not even yourself. Trust the God Who formed you in the first place and Who loves you so much. 

Together, we celebrate this reality. Praise God we are not all men. I hear a variety of ‘amens’ to that, in a particular tone of voice even. And praise God we are not all women. And yes, we ‘amen’ this, because we are all men and women with physical bodies uniquely and wonderfully designed by God from the very beginning of creation. Part of the beauty of our Creator’s work is men and women made in the image of God. We celebrate that. 

Then, second, see in this text how God calls us to celebrate God’s distinct design for marriage. So now come back to verse three, where we’ve seen ‘head’ is not talking about a difference in dignity or value. So what is it talking about? The answer seems to be that ‘head’ is talking about relationship with and to one another. Let’s look at it again. We could spend time talking about how, through Scripture, man relates to Christ as head. Or how, in his humanity, Christ, the Son of God, relates to God the Father as head. Again, as we’ve already seen, this does not undermine His dignity or worth. 

Let’s just hone in on the phrase in the middle, “the head of a wife is her husband.” What does that mean? Thankfully, we have another passage in the Bible, also written by Paul under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, that tells us exactly what this means. Remember, we interpret each Scripture in light of all Scripture. So if you have a Bible, hold your place here in 1 Corinthians 11. Take a right, go three books, until you come to Ephesians. 

In this letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul uses the exact same language he’s using here in 1 Corinthians 11. Again, under the inspiration of the exact same Holy Spirit, we read these words from God through Paul. Ephesians 5:22-25: 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 

Let’s stop there, go back and circle this word we see twice, that we also see in 1 Corinthians 11:3. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church…” We’ve walked through this passage before and Mike preached on a similar passage in 1 Peter 3 at the end of last year, so we’ll just summarize what we’ve seen many other times. This is the picture God paints of marriage in His Word. 

According to God, for the husband to be the head of the wife means that a husband lovingly sacrifices his life to lead his wife for her good. It means for husbands to love their wives, how? As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. That is quite a statement. The Bible says, “Husbands, look at Jesus on the cross and love your wife like that.” What does it mean to the be the head in your marriage? It means you get to lay down your life for your wife. 

Then, this passage says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” So also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. So for the husband to be the head in marriage means that a wife respectfully submits to her husband’s loving leadership. I use “respectfully” here very intentionally, because that’s the word God uses specifically later in this passage, in verse 33:“Let the wife see that she respects her husband,” as the husband loves his wife. And I use the word “submit,” because that’s the word we see twice in this passage. 

I so wish we had more time to camp out here, because I know many of you may be going in all kinds of different directions, particularly if you’ve never heard this before. You’re wondering if this picture of leadership and submission is unhealthy, demeaning, oppressive, abusive, misogynistic or any number of other things, based on what this sounds like or how you’ve seen a text like this used. But I just want you to know that if any of those pictures are in your mind right now, that is not at all what God is saying. 

Look at the comparison here. The relationship between a husband as head of his wife is comparable to Christ as head of the church, His followers. Jesus does not oppress His people. He does not abuse them. He does not demean or devalue them. Jesus lifts them up. Jesus’ leadership of His church as head is perfectly for their good. 

Now, obviously no husband is perfect like Jesus. But God’s design is good. It’s very good. I’ve never met a wife who didn’t want to respectfully submit to a husband who was laying down his life every day to lovingly and sacrificially lead, serve, support and help her to thrive for her good. So any problems and abuses that arise here are because of husbands and/or wives going outside of God’s good, distinct design for marriage. The problem is not with God’s design. 

Along these lines, this is why we want to encourage every single person in this church to be in a small group, because every marriage struggles and we all need help to love like this. We all want to help each other, especially when a spouse is not demonstrating God’s good design for marriage. 

By the way, we know this is not just a picture for people back in the first century. We know things are different now in the 21st century. Look at Ephesians 5:31-33: 

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

Did you catch that? Ephesians 5 is quoting from where? From all the way back in the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 2:24. This is where we see marriage first instituted, not just in the Bible, but in the world. In the beginning, the Bible was teaching that God has distinctly designed a man to hold fast to his wife as a picture of Christ and the church. In other words, this picture of loving, sacrificial headship and glad, respectful submission in marriage is timeless. God designed marriage from the very beginning of time to be a picture of Jesus’ loving, sacrificial headship of His bride, His church. Which gives otherworldly weight to marriage. 

Marriage is not just about a man and a woman being in love with one another. Yes, that—and that’s awesome. Yet in a much greater way, marriage is a picture on the landscape of human history that shouts, “Jesus loves His people so much that He lays down His life for them.” God has designed a picture in our relationships to make that clear to the world. What an amazing gospel reality lies at the heart of marriage! 

It’s so interesting when we come back to 1 Corinthians 11. Paul does the same thing here. He goes all the way back to creation, Genesis 2, and gives a brief overview of how God uniquely and wonderfully designed man, then woman as a complement to man, like man but different from man. God brought them together in marriage. In other words, he’s celebrating the same thing we just read in Ephesians 5. These different passages in God’s Word are speaking together here. 

However, the problem in 1 Corinthians 11 is that these distinctions between men and women, specifically between husbands and wives, were not being celebrated by the church at Corinth in that specific and cultural context. So this is where we start to see the temporary application, in that day, of timeless truth. 

Based on this truth that all people at all times should celebrate unique distinctions between men and woman and God’s unique design for marriage, verses four and five say, “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.” 

Now, we don’t know all the historical and cultural reasons why this was the case, but clearly in that day, if a man covered his head when he was praying or prophesying, he would be dishonoring his head, who as we’ve already seen in verse three, is Christ. When you keep going, it’s clear that in this historical-cultural context, a wife who prayed or prophesied with her head uncovered would be showing dishonor to her head, which we’ve already seen in verse three, specifically to her husband. 

We’re also seeing that it would be a disgrace, in that historical-cultural context, for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head. We could spend a lot more time talking about why that might be the case in that culture, including how that relates to nature, like we see in verse 14. But the point is: in that historical-cultural context, a man who wore long hair would be depicting himself as a woman, and a woman who cut off her hair or shaved her head would be depicting herself as a man. 

The problem was these Corinthian Christians were acting like these gender distinctions didn’t exist, to the point of even depicting themselves as the opposite gender. In other words, in that historical-cultural context, they were minimizing God’s distinctive design for their bodies as men and women, and they were throwing aside God’s distinct design for marriage. Specifically, women were praying and prophesying in a way that communicated in that culture, “I do not honor my husband.” 

I keep emphasizing “in that historical-cultural context,” because head covering seems to be a matter of temporary application, not timeless truth. In part this is because we don’t see other places in God’s Word where God commands women to cover their head whenever they pray or prophesy. Yet the context here seems to be pretty clearly focused on the timeless truth of God’s distinct design of males and females—and husbands and wives and marriage—from the beginning of creation, not whether covering your head was timeless in the same way. 

This is why, when Aliza, our director of counseling and care, led us in prayer earlier her head was not covered. No one here was thinking, “She’s trying to act like a man,” or “She’s dishonoring her husband.” Yet even as I say that I do want to give a caveat. There are people today, churches today, in some places here and even more around the world, where Christian woman cover their heads in worship or when they pray or speak. So while we’re saying that was a temporary application of a timeless truth, that it doesn’t seem to be commanded of us today in every time in every culture as the church, I think it’s really important that we don’t disparage in any way those who keep that practice, assuming they are doing so because they want to obey God’s Word and celebrate this distinction. So even if we might not say that it’s necessary today in our context, we honor those who might do this in different places around the world out of a desire to glorify God through His Word. Actually, there’s a sense in which we should learn from them. This text should drive us all to ask, “How can we make sure, in our context, that we’re celebrating God’s distinct design of men and women—and of husbands and wives and marriage—in everything we do, especially when we gather for worship?” 

Now before we ask that question and land this plane on how this applies to our lives, I want to point out one other way we celebrate the unique distinctions between men and women based on this passage. This will actually set the stage for what we’re going to see in 1 Corinthians 12-14. 

Truth #3 – God calls all people throughout all time to celebrate God’s distinct design for the church. 

So God in His Word calls all people throughout all time to celebrate His distinct design for our bodies, His distinct design for marriage, and third, to celebrate God’s distinct design for the church. Can I just point out the obvious here in 1 Corinthians 11? According to this passage, women are praying and prophesying when the church gathers together. In other words, women are playing a significant part in God’s design for His church. That may seem obvious, but I want to emphasize it here, because passages like this—whether intentionally or unintentionally—have been used in the history of the church to minimize the role of women in the church. We’re going to see this throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14. 

Let’s make sure it’s clear among us that God gifts every woman and man for the building up of His church. We must not use a passage like this to make women feel less than or inferior, less valuable or not as important, in the life—and specifically the leadership—of the church. I don’t have time to go into all the ways this is practically played out, but suffice it to say that would be a misuse of this text, because God has given every woman and man unique, supernatural gifts from His Spirit for the building up of His church. It is dishonoring to God, and to women, to limit those gifts in any way that goes against God’s design. 

When we look at God’s design for His church, there’s only one position in the church that God specifically designates for biblically qualified men and that position is elder/pastor/overseer. The Bible uses these terms interchangeably to refer to the same position in the church. I wish I had time to show you this throughout the Bible today. The church has taught on this timeless truth that God has appointed biblically qualified men. Meaning, not every man is called by God to serve as elder/pastor/overseer. If you look in passages like Acts 20 or 1 Timothy 3, you see that it’s men with certain spiritual gifts of teaching and leadership, among other gifts, who shepherd the church. This means there are many men who are following Jesus with all their heart who have different spiritual gifts and who don’t serve as elders/pastors/overseers. They’re certainly not “less than” either. 

This is not ultimately what 1 Corinthians 11 is about, but the reason I mention it here is twofold. One, I mention it because June is when we set aside time as a church for us to affirm any new potential elders among us. I use that term “elder” really specifically, because the way our church is structured we have a small group of elders—a board of elders—the majority of whom are not on staff. I’m actually the only current staff elder. Biblically qualified elders together oversee the church, according to God’s Word. They oversee big-picture items like our church’s vision or budget, according to our church’s constitution. Obviously, a small group like that is nowhere near sufficient to personally shepherd and care for the thousands of people who are part of our church family. This is why we have multiple pastors at every location across our church family. Some of them are on staff and there are many at various locations who are not on staff. 

Our aim in the days ahead—part of what we’ve been working on a ton this last year—is making a way to raise up multitudes more biblically qualified pastors. Some will be on staff, but many will not be on staff. All of them will be working together to shepherd this body. We want every single member of this church to be known, cared for, prayed for and encouraged by a pastor. For a church our size across all our locations, that means we need a lot of pastors. More on that in the days to come. 

Also in our study of 1 Corinthians 11 and men and women in the church, we must be very careful to never, ever, ever let affirming elders lead us to not also affirm women and men who are not serving as elders, who are leading and serving in all kinds of other significant roles in the church, rightly according to God’s Word. Specifically, I praise God for women who have led significantly in the history of MBC, and who are leading right now in our church family in significant, prominent ways. I think about our Director of Church Groups, our Director of Counseling and Care, women leading worship, and leading age group ministries—women leading and building up this body in some of the most critical ministries of our church. 

We want to cultivate a culture that never minimizes or devalues, but always affirms and celebrates, women and men who are thriving according to God’s good design for our lives and His church. Know this: we worship and serve together in God’s family as siblings, not as subordinates. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re sons and daughters of God. We’re coheirs of a Kingdom. We’re co-laborers on a mission. We love one another like family, serving together as brothers and sisters for the spread of our Father’s love in this world. We want to celebrate God’s distinct design for the church. These are the timeless truths of 1 Corinthians 11. 

As followers of Jesus, we worship and serve, we pray and prophesy—and we’ll talk more about what that means when we get to 1 Corinthians 14—we love and lead with equal dignity, as women and men in the image of God, while celebrating the unique and wonderful distinctions between women and men—specifically, God’s distinct design of our bodies, marriage and for the church. 

So practically then, what does all this mean? How can you apply this timeless truth from God in your life today, this week? Let me just list some of the ways. 

Honor women and men with equal dignity in all that you do. Make sure that you are not devaluing, demeaning, discrediting or discounting the dignity of women or men in any way—in your thoughts, actions, words; in your home, at your work and especially in the church. We know that the church has, historically and sadly, devalued, discredited and even demeaned women. Far too often, the church has not been a place where women’s gifts are honored or even noticed. Let us honor women and men with equal dignity in all we do. That’s from God. 

Then on a more personal level, thank God for your gender. Even if you sometimes struggle with or question God’s design of your body, as an act of trust in God, thank Him for making you male or female. And glorify God fully through your gender. Consider how to most glorify God fully as a woman or as a man, according to His Word, in this time and place in which He’s put us today. 

Then for those who are married, clearly God is saying to you today, husbands, love your wives. Husbands, how can you better lay down your life to love your wife? That’s clearly what God is calling you to today in this Word. And wives, honor your husbands. These words are from God to husbands and wives, straight from Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. 

Then as the church, affirm biblically qualified elders. Use your gifts to fully build up the church. If you are a follower of Jesus and you are not connected to the church in ways that you are using your gifts for the encouragement of others and their faith, get connected in that way. We want to help you do that. If you’re not serving in the church, get connected. You matter. Again, we’re going to see this more in 1 Corinthians 12. You have been supernaturally gifted by the Spirit of God for the building up of a church. So you’re missing out on God’s design for your life if that’s not happening in your life. I would add, this is for everyone, young and old, including students. You have supernatural gifts for the building up of the church, so use them. 

Then let me close with this. The main takeaway from today is simply to trust Jesus to make you the woman or man God has designed you to be. Some of you have never come to the point where you have trusted Jesus with your life. The message of the Bible is that God has made each one of you. We are all separated from God because of ways we have sinned against God. The only way we can be forgiven of our sin and restored to relationship with God is by trusting in Jesus, Who died on the cross for sinners and Who rose from the dead, so that we might have life to the full forever with God. 

I invite you to put your trust in Jesus today, if you have never done that. And when you do—and for all who have—then trust Him. Let’s ask Him, every single day, to make us more and more and more the men or women whom God has distinctly and wonderfully designed you and me to be. 

Would you bow your heads and close your eyes? I want to invite anyone who’s never put your trust in Jesus with your life to pray right now in your heart to God. Say, “God, today is the day when I want to be restored to relationship with You. I know I’ve sinned against You. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin and rose from the grave. Today I put my trust in Jesus for life now and life forever. Today I trust You to make me the man or woman I am, as You created me to be.” 

Can we just all pray that together? God, please make us the man or woman You’ve created us to be. We praise You for how You have fearfully and wonderfully, beautifully and uniquely formed each one of us. It’s an awesome thought that we are made in Your image. So with the kind of dignity that You have invested in us, we want to experience life to the full as the men and women You’ve created us to be. So help us, we pray, to honor one another fully, as men and women created in Your image. 

God, we pray that You would help us celebrate these unique and wonderful distinctions in our lives in the way You’ve designed our bodies and the way You’ve designed marriage. We pray for marriages to look like Ephesians 5 and that You would help us when our marriages don’t. God, we pray for this church family. We pray that women and men would thrive in every way You’ve created and gifted us to thrive, that there would be the full complement of men and women, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters serving You together, glorifying You together with the grace gifts You have given to us. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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