Sisters in Christ – Part 3

February 2, 2013

WWJD and Our Sister Relationships

WWJDFor the past decade or so I have worked with a professor who greatly admires Jim, a former dean of our school. When this professor finds himself in a complex professional situation, he tells me he asks himself, “What would Jim do?” There’s an ornery little place inside me that always wants to buy him one of those little WWJD bracelets whenever he says that, but he probably wouldn’t get the joke.

I know the whole WWJD fad is so 90s, but it’s still a valid question to consider—What would Jesus do, that is. It seems weird, I know, to seek out guidance on female relationships from a guy. Really, though, the most important thing we can do is look at what Jesus did, at how he treated women, and then follow his example.

At the end of my Sisters in Christ – Part 2 post, which was an overview of all the instances in which Jesus interacted with women, I promised to tell you what I learned, so here it is.

Jesus valued women, showing them respect and giving them a voice.

As I have said before, the message we learn from the accumulation of these Gospel stories is the value and care Jesus assigns to women—to the women of the first century and to us today. It gives us great peace and confidence that we are so loved. His love then sends us into daily life to love and respect other women. Not just the women who are good to us and agree with us, though. We are to love women who are hard to love—whose sin repels us; women who have abrasive personality styles, eccentricities, or overly assertive behaviors; women who build walls to protect themselves. We don’t roll our eyes behind their backs or complain about them to other sisters. We ask God to open our hearts and teach us to love as he does. 

Jesus saw women for who they were and what they needed, partly because he listened to them.

We also must seek to see women for who they are and what they need. We should never be content looking only at the surface—at mere facial expressions or behaviors or even careless words. Every woman has a past that influences who she is today. We need to notice women who are hurting—whether from pain, disease, disability, emotional illness, loneliness or tragedy or loss. This means we have to stop what we are doing—stop running around frantically busy— and listen. We must pray for women in need and frequently remind them that they are valued merely for who they are. 

Jesus cared about women’s pain and usually did something about it.

We need to be in the ministry of healing just like Jesus was, and I’m not primarily talking about miraculous physical healing. Yes, we must minister to women suffering physically, but we must also be about healing emotional wounds that scar even more deeply than the physical ones.  We reflect Jesus’ love and concern on other women, support them through hard times, encourage them, and point them toward the Great Healer. We can fight for justice and become defenders of the weak. We can work to rescue those in spiritual and emotional bondage. We do it because, like Jesus, we genuinely care. 

Jesus showed women mercy and grace, clearly communicating his godly love.

Yes, women will hurt us, disappoint us, betray us, neglect us, and generally fail us. We are not required to trust people beyond their trustworthiness, but we are required to bear with each other and forgive our grievances against each other. We care enough to confront with honesty those who have sinned against us, as in Matthew 18, and without using guilt to manipulate them. We watch for signs of repentance (change) but we do not demand penance (payment). This is how we remain free to love. 

Jesus treated women as capable and intelligent without ever seeming to stereotype them.

We must also refrain from putting women in boxes, assigning them narrow roles and insinuating that all Christian women’s lives should look the same. The idea that there is only one kind of “biblical woman” is a myth. We need to respect our differences without judgment and allow each other to be who God made us to be in Christ. 

Jesus defended women against others who were dismissive, critical, or condemning.

The world can be very harsh to women whose actions and choices fall outside an accepted norm, and the church can be worse. We need to have each other’s back and defend our sisters against the cruelty of thoughtless, negative people—regardless of whether their gossip and idol talk is intended to do harm. 

Jesus treated women as worthy to be his disciples and contributors to the advancement of the kingdom.

We partner as fellow workers, confident that all of us are welcome to be there and welcomed to serve Christ together. We don’t judge others’ life circumstances or get distracted by pettiness. We don’t prioritize gifts and ministries or suspect each other’s motives. We keep our focus on Jesus and support each other in advancing His kingdom. 

Really, this is only the beginning of what I’m learning about how to be like Jesus in my relationships with sisters in Christ. I am convicted that I fall very short of his example, but I so appreciate the grace of so many sisters who love me.

How about you? How are you doing? 

Next post, our topic will be Sisters and Friends. Subscribe here so you don’t miss it!

Photo by Tobey_Cat (

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