Women Remade

Posted: April 17, 2018 by keystoneyouth in God's Greatest Invention
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 God's Greates Invention Graphic

Introduction:

  • Refresh: Over the past month we have been doing a series on gender – what it means to be a man or woman.
  • Two weeks ago, we started talking about women – What did we say about women? –Women encourage, nurture, and provide strength.
  • As we did with men, I want to talk about hurdles that women face.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest struggles/hurdles that women face is that they are told that they are only as good as their physical appearance.
  • Tonight, I want to look at this hurdle, show some of the issues it causes, talk about how God remakes women.

Big Idea: Find your value in what God says about you.

Passage: Mark 5:24-34; James 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Main Points:

  • Sin leaves women covered in shame.
  • Comparison and perfectionism become ways of dealing with shame.
  • Only Jesus deals permanently with our shame.

Sin leaves women covered in shame (Mark 5:25)

  • What is shame? – The feeling of not being good enough, not measuring up, of being defective and inadequate.
    • Sin brings shame. Sometimes because of what we have done, but also because we feel the shame of not measuring up to a certain standard.
    • So I was a late bloomer as far as puberty. My voice didn’t drop until last yearJ. And when I hit puberty in high school I developed really bad acne. I still have it to this day, just not as bad as what it once was. It was a source of shame for me because I felt like I didn’t measure up to a certain standard of how I look. I felt like I wasn’t good enough.
  • The woman we meet in Mark chapter 5 is also covered in shame… not specifically because of something she’s done, but because of something happening with her body.
  • The passage introduces her as “The woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years.”
    • Isn’t that a great way to be known? “Whose that lady? Oh, she’s the one who’s had a discharge of blood for 12 years.”
  • We read that and may think, “Eww gross. Too much information.”
    • It’s like the same feeling I get when I’m with nurses and they start talking about the crazy things they’ve seen in patients: “Yeah his poop bag was overflowing!” “Oh my goodness, the skin was literally falling off his butt.”
  • But there is more going on here than the Bible giving us too much information. It’s telling us that this woman would have been ceremonially unclean for 12 years.
  • See in the Old Testament we find all these laws about being clean or unclean.
    • To be unclean means you needed to be singled out and separated from other people until you were clean, because if you touched someone else they would become unclean.
    • To be unclean means you don’t measure up to the standard. It means you are constantly reminded that something is wrong with you.
    • To be unclean for 12 years means every day you wake up and are confronted with the shame of not being good enough.
  • And we might look at a passage like this and think, that’s so outdated! But that would be to miss that many women face the exact same struggle today.
    • Ladies who wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and the first thing that comes to mind is everything that is wrong with their bodies.
    • Ladies who are constantly aware of the other girls in the room that are prettier than them.
    • Ladies who have been told in some way, “You’re not pretty. There’s something wrong with you. Your body is weird.”
    • I’m not saying this isn’t a hurdle for guys… I just think it’s a far bigger hurdle for girls.
  • Why? Because girls are told again and again, “If you are beautiful, then you will be loved and valued.”
    • You are told it when almost every celebrity we have is beautiful. You are told it when you see guys paying more attention to pretty girls. And now you are told it when you see the girl who is prettier than you getting more attention on social media.
  • But here is the problem… The standard of beauty that is set for girls is actually impossible to achieve: Have a size 0 waist, flat stomach, large chest, be tan, but not too tan, have beautiful hair and a flawless face, and make all of that look super easy. Oh, and then make sure you filter it all as well.
    • Picture of Photo shopped celebrities.
  • You used to only be able to do that in movies and magazines, but now anyone can do that with the touch of a button on their phone.
  • I honestly feel deeply for you ladies, because the bar that is set for you is utterly impossible to achieve. There is no way to achieve the standard of beauty that our culture says makes you valuable, good enough, and worthy of love. That’s devastating.
    • Imagine if I told you right now, “We are all going to go outside and run a three-minute mile.” You would look at me like I’m crack. That’s not possible Kyle! But imagine if you were told that to be loved, valued, and worthy in life you had to run a three-minute mile. That would be utterly devastating.
  • Sadly Ladies, that is the type of message that often seeps into your skin and bones… and the result is a shame for not measuring up.

 Comparison and perfectionism become ways of dealing with shame (Mark 5:26)

  • We try to figure out ways of dealing with the shame on our own.
  • Just as the woman in this story did…
  • She spent years searching for a doctor that could cure her. She spent all her money in an effort to buy a miracle cure… and every time they came up short.
    • What was her goal? Her goal was to get rid of the shame she felt in being unclean. She tried desperately to solve the problem on her own, and what was the result? She only grew worse.
  • Women today still attempt to deal with shame on their own and through their own efforts… and two the big ways they do are through comparison and perfectionism.
  • Let’s look first at comparison…
  • A way to feel better about yourself when an impossible standard has been set is to look around at other people and compare yourself with them.
    • So if I tell you that in order to be loved and valued you need to run a 3-minute mile. Your response may be say, “Well I know I can’t run a 3-minute mile, but at least I can run faster than Jenny.
  • Girls you tend to be experts at comparing yourselves with each other. It’s not that guys don’t do it, it’s just that you are far better.
    • “Women spend more time checking each other out than they do the opposite sex… It’s practically every aspect of another woman’s appearance, from hair style to tan, shape, size, even body hair and fat distribution.” Whatever we deem to be most important ourselves.” –Julia Oliphant
  • You’ve probably done this at youth group… perhaps already tonight, perhaps as I’m teaching this lesson.
  • And here’s what’s incredible… that girl or girls that you think, “She is so much better than I am. She’s beautiful, flawless, attracts all the attention.” I guarantee she is thinking the exact same thing about someone else, while she endlessly sees all of her flaws.
  • But none of us ever let down our guard and admit this.
  • Here’s the big problem with comparison… it leads to all sorts of evil.
    • Look at James 4:1-2.
    • Let’s paraphrase this related to our lesson: “What causes fights among you? You desire to be more attractive than anyone else and you do not have it, so you tear apart the completion. You covet what other girls have, so you fight and quarrel with them.”
  • See if there is someone who we view as more attractive and more beautiful than us… than we sit there envying them, wishing we were more like them, coveting their looks, and looking for ways we can tear them down a notch.
  • Girls, you can be experts at tearing one another down. Instead of encouraging and nurturing, you kill with your words and destroy life.
  • It devastates me how I see this happen among High School and Middle School girls. Like you can be best friends one week and the next week you won’t even talk to each other. Why? Because competition, harsh words, and gossip have just torn you apart. You’ll dress it up like it’s no big deal. But it’s a really big deal! Instead of giving life with your words you inflict death.
    • “I watched this happen among our Sensational Six — watched as our pastimes shifted from having goofy singalongs, to trying on clothes, to pointing out one another’s flaws, to primping before a mirror, and the final stop, making boys laugh. We were still friends, but we were suddenly aware of a new dimension.” –Emily Gordon (NY Times Op Ed)
  • Girls when you fall into comparison, you become promoters of yourself and you look for ways to degrade your rivals… even if they are your closest friends.
  • See how comparison gets in the way of what it means to be a godly woman?
  • What about perfectionism?
  • Perfectionism is the thought that if I can just achieve the perfect life, then I will be able to get rid of the shame.
  • “If I can just be the best, the smartest, the most athletic… then I will cover over my shame.”
  • Which then translates eventually into… “If I can just have the perfect relationship, the perfect home, the perfect family… then I will get rid of my shame.
  • But do you see the type of pressure this puts on you? You will never be perfect… not even in one of those areas.
    • I dream of one day giving the perfect lesson. A lesson that leaves you all laughing and crying at the same time. A lesson that so radically touches your life that you leave saying, “I will never be the same.” A lesson where God actually shows up in the middle of it to start video recording it. BUT it’s never going to happen. No matter how well I teach some of you will be bored, some of you will be watching the clock. Some of you will be looking at your phones. Some of you will think I’m just a gangly idiot who likes to talk a lot. And if and when I make that perfect lesson the source of my value, I will either be self-righteous because I thought I taught really well… or more likely devastated because I felt like the lesson fell flat on its head.
  • A chase after perfection will either leave us feeling self-righteous… like we are better than other people or more likely it will leave us in despair… worse off than when we started.
    • And that despair leads to all sorts of painful outlets… things like eating disorders (what is that but a brutal pursuit of perfection?)
    • Things like suicide – (I’ll never measure up so I might as well end it).
    • Things like self-harm – (Where the depression of not measuring up finds a release or you start to treat your body based on what you and others have sad about yourself – You are ugly).
  • Comparison and Perfection just make things worse… just like this woman’s pursuit of healing from the shame made things worse.

 Only Jesus permanently deals with our shame.

  • But luckily, there is a remedy for the shame. A healing that can stop all the comparison and perfectionism that eats away at women.
  • And it’s found in Jesus.
  • Back to our little story… the woman hears that Jesus is walking through town. She knows he’s a miracle worker. And she thinks to herself, “If I could just touch him, I bet I would be made well.
  • Notice, she doesn’t even feel like she’s worthy enough to approach him and ask for healing, so she sneaks in, trying to go unnoticed and touches his cloak. And immediately she is healed!
  • But then Jesus does something she didn’t expect him to… He stops the whole crowd and says, “Who touched me?”
  • And the woman slowly walks forward with her head down and admits that it was her.
    • I wonder what was going through her mind at that point?
    • Was she thinking, “Jesus is about to tear into me for touching him? He is about to shame me in front of the whole crowd?”
  • But Jesus does something different… “He looks at her and says, “Daughter, your faith as made you well, go in peace.”
  • This is the only time in the gospels where Jesus looks at a woman and calls her daughter – a term of affection, love, and value.
  • Why does he do this?
  • Because he knows that she needs more than just physical healing… she needs to be healed from the root cause of her shame.
  • This is why if one day God decided to make you the type of beautiful that you dream about… it still wouldn’t be enough. Or if you try to cover up the flaws with surgery and too much make-up, it won’t be enough. The shame would just pop up somewhere else.
    • It would be like putting a band aid on someone who has a tumor. Sure the bandaid may stop some bleeding… but it doesn’t heal the tumor.
    • Beyoncé sings a song called Pretty Hurts. It’s a song some of you have heard me already talk about. I reference it again because it is such a powerful song and I think inadvertently points to the gospel. The song is all about how hard it is to measure up, how trying to be beautiful ends up hurting, and how there is this part of us that needs to be fixed. There’s this line in the chorus that continually sticks with me… it says this: “But you can’t fix what you can’t see, it’s the soul that needs a surgery.”
  • What’s she saying? Being more beautiful will never be enough, gaining guys attention will never be enough, having girls be jealous of you will never be enough… because it’s your soul that needs surgery.
  • And that’s exactly why Jesus came – to do soul surgery. To take away the shame that sits so deep in our souls. How does he do this? By giving us a new identity.
  • An identity that no longer says, “You will be loved and valued IF you are beautiful.” But an identity that says, “You are loved and valued as my chosen daughter therefore you are beautiful.”
  • Here is how Paul puts it: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    • You know that joy and delight you have when you buy something new. Like the smile you can’t wipe off your face because you bought a new pair of jeans, or a new iPhone, or a new car. It’s new, it’s perfect and you can’t help but smile. That’s how God feels about you. And unlike how the smile fades because what is new becomes old, and dirty and needs to be replaced… that never happens with you. Because in God’s eyes you are always a brand spanking new creation in Christ. Because how he looks at Christ is exactly how he looks at you.
  • If you’re a Christian – that’s who you are. NO SHAME. Brand New. Perfect. Beautiful – because of Jesus.
    • I know that you will still walk out of here and struggle to believe that at times (Why? Because I know I will.)
    • But I want you to know… when you feel the shame of not measuring up, when you are comparing yourself, when you are struggling with perfection… YOU DON’T NEED TO ANYMORE! Your identity in Christ offers you freedom from all of that.
  • If you’re not a Christian – I desperately want that for you. I want your soul to experience the surgery that alone can bring you healing. I want you to stop falling under the weight of shame. I want you to see how incredible God’s love is for you.
  • And I would say to you, it can be yours. That new identity in Christ can be yours. You can be free of the shame. You can be loved and valued more then you ever imagined as a son or daughter of God. You can find the identity you are searching for… turn to Jesus, repent of your sins and look to him in faith. He is enough and he will make you enough as well.

So What??

  • Guys, we need to be more careful about how we talk about women and how we talk to women. Are we implicitly or explicitly reinforcing that a woman’s value is found in how she looks?
  • Guys, don’t make your standard for beauty what you see in movies, on the internet, or in advertisements.
  • Girls, when you are comparing yourself to other girls – Believe what God says about you, not what you are saying about yourself.
  • Girls, when you find yourself chasing perfection – Remember that you are already perfect in Christ.
  • Girls, be open and honest about your struggles and flaws. IT HELPS NOBODY when we try to fake it and act like we have the perfect life. We only end up hurting others and ourselves.

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