I’ve discovered some very cool stuff in my study time this week.
In the days that Jesus physically walked this earth, the Jewish rabbis had a particular prayer that they would pray virtually every day. It went like this: “Blessed art thou, O God, for not making me a Gentile, slave, or woman.”
Nice, huh ladies?
What I discovered this week is that the rabbis weren’t bashing the Gentiles, slaves and women. They really were simply thanking God that they were men . . . and for good reason.
They were thanking God because Gentiles, slaves and women were not allowed to participate fully in the community of faith. If you remember, in the Temple, there was a court for Gentiles, and a court for women. Both with restricted access into the Temple . . . restricted access into God’s presence.
Then along comes Jesus. And Jesus values Gentiles. And slaves. And women.
The Apostle Paul (a Jesus follower) writes in Galatians 3:28, “Now, there is neither Gentile or Jew, slave or free, male or female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul, as a rabbi, would have prayed the prayer, “Blessed art thou, O God, for not making me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman,” most every day of his life . . . Until he had an encounter with Jesus.
It is no accident that Paul uses the same three groupings . . . no Gentile or Jew, no slave or free, no male or female . . . He knew the prayer, but he knew Jesus’ heart even better. He knew that Jesus came to usher in a new community.
It took about 200 years to break down the barriers between the Jews and Gentiles (read the book of Acts). It took more than 1800 years to break down the walls between slave and free. How long will it take for the church to break down the walls between male and female?