“Sometimes when you’re searching for answers you get more than you bargained for.”
That was the opening sentence in Half the Church. It was also the opening sentence in the message I gave last week at Cru17 in Fort Collins when I spoke about the Blessed Alliance to the Jesus Film Project staff.
One of those “more than I bargained for” moments (and there have been many) came when I was simply trying to find solid footing in my own story. A ten year stretch of singleness knocked me off-course from what I understood to be God’s highest calling for me as a woman—to be a wife and mother.
I went back to the creation narrative to find out if God’s vision for his daughters included all of our stories from first to final breath. That’s where I got a whole lot more than I bargained for.
From a biblical story I’ve heard since I was a little girl, I learned that my true calling as a female started at birth. According to Genesis, every girl child born is an indispensible ezer-warrior (Genesis 2:18) for God’s purposes.
But I also learned that relationships between God’s sons and daughters are essential to God’s purposes for the world. He created his image bearers to reflect his character, to do his work in the world, to look after things on his behalf, and to do it together.
According to Genesis 1-2, human relationships have cosmic repercussions for good or ill—for the benefit or detriment of God’s kingdom on earth. How we work together (or don’t) as allies in every venue impacts the advance of God’s purposes in the world one way or another.
This entails a whole lot more getting along better or sharing power. Current debates in the church don’t take us nearly far enough. The Blessed Alliance is a kingdom strategy designed for the flourishing of all humanity and all creation. It’s recovery is a central aspect of Jesus’ gospel.
You could say, the Blessed Alliance is the spiritual equivalent of a nuclear weapon. Only the Blessed Alliance is not destructive. It is constructive and gospel powerful. It is, in fact, the best thing that can happen to a human being, and it is only good news to any person, culture, or location on the planet that feels its effect.
In an earlier blog I wrote:
God’s original vision—a vision he has never abandoned but revives in the work of his son—was for relationships between men and women to be dazzling points of light on this spinning globe. Dynamics between men and women were never intended to be a battle of the sexes or a heated debate within Christian circles. Male/female relationships in Christ are to be a glowing testament to the fact that we are followers of Jesus. This is where God means to put on display a gospel-powered love. This is where the world is supposed to see men and women laying down their lives for others, offering strength and wisdom to each other, and investing ourselves fully for God’s kingdom. —“The Blessed Alliance”
Needless to say, I take every opportunity that comes my way to talk about the Blessed Alliance and expand the conversation. The Jesus Film team’s invitation to Fort Collins was the latest. I will be savoring for a long time the conversations I had with many of them—both men and women—afterwards.
The Blessed Alliance showed up in print for the first time in Lost Women of the Bible. It is a major theme in every subsequent book I’ve written (The Gospel of Ruth, Half the Church, and Malestrom). Every book I’ve written puts the Blessed Alliance on breathtaking display in the biblical narratives I unpack. The Blessed Alliance shows up in stories of Deborah, Barak, and Jael, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, Esther and Mordecai, Mary and Joseph, Jesus and Mary of Bethany, and Paul and the women of Philippi (to name only a few examples).
But there is still so much more to explore and understand. Work so far has only scratched the surface. So Frank and I are currently in the process of researching, discussing, and probing further this vital topic for a book on the Blessed Alliance we will be writing together.
Stay tuned for more news on this project and also news of when Lexham Press will release my just completed sequel to The Gospel of Ruth.