Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No More “Christian Nice Girl”

By Julie Gernand
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future. – Proverbs 31:25
Have you ever been part of that stigma? 

You know the one.

“Oh, that girl. She’s a very nice, sweet Christian girl. I’ll bet she’ll do whatever you ask.”

“Yeah, she’s very sweet, and kind of a pushover. I think she’s a Christian girl.”

“She’s so quiet. I never hear her speak up for herself.”

Ladies, it’s time to break the mold.

I once read a book entitled No More Christian Nice Girl by Peter Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler, PhD.
I highly recommend it.

While there are many great things about being “nice” – for in the Bible we are called to show God’s love to others through our words and actions – there is much more to being a Christian woman than just sticky, sweet passivity. After all, we are to emulate Jesus. And he was no doormat.

Jesus’ behavior, while full of passionate love for people, was also often filled with “tough love”. On more than one occasion in the Bible, we see Jesus full of assertive strength. Let’s look at Matthew 21:21-13:

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” 

Jesus saw that these men were engaging in corrupt behavior in a place of worship. His strong actions of turning over their tables made his point in a way that showed the power of his convictions, and that this behavior was NOT a wise choice. It was His way or the highway. Go, Jesus, go.

We see Jesus’ spicy side on other occasions, too, such as when Jesus rebuked Peter with a stern warning of “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” – (Matthew 16:23), and in other places throughout the Bible when Jesus was rebuked, tempted, and taunted by Satan and his ways.

So, am I saying that we need to lash out at others and turn over the dining room table the next time someone is rude at dinner? Is that how Jesus lived? No way. The authors of No More Christian Nice Girl tell us,

“As presented in the Gospels, Jesus is most definitely not one-sided. He is the complete embodiment of healthy, balanced human personality; thus, Jesus is immensely compassionate, kind, and gracious while also being assertive, forceful, and firm when necessary. He is good, but he’s definitely not “nice” or as safe as many Christians want to believe.” (p.27)

“So, who WAS/IS a Christian woman that gives a great example of how to behave?” you may be asking?

Let’s start with Mary.

Jesus was coming to visit two sisters, Mary and Martha, in the town of Bethany. Martha was consumed with housework and preparing a meal, and Mary chose to forget the busywork and to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his teaching.  Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10: 38-42)

We all know that person, right? A “Martha”? Someone who is so busy with planning a party, consumed with the insignificant details of where to put the punch-bowl and how to line up the silverware. Imagine what guts it must have taken Mary to say, “No, Martha. I’m going to listen to Jesus. It’s more important than your dusting and polishing.” (For me, a people-pleaser, and self-recognized “nice girl”, that would be so difficult!)

While a “Christian Nice Girl” would have given in and said, “Oh, yes, sister, of course I’ll help you first! You seem so busy!”, Mary chose to be an assertive Christian woman, with her eyes firmly planted on the truth. She was courageous in choosing to act differently than her sister.

Let us reject the “Christian-Nice-Girl-Sugary-Sweet” persona, and take on the persona of Christ. We must stand strong in our convictions, and not be afraid to be bold for our faith. Let’s read a portion of Proverbs 31, where “A Wife of Noble Character” is defined:

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

Let us be women empowered by Jesus to truly, boldly live for Him.

Dear Lord, Help us to be bold. So often we can forget our convictions when it is easier to give a sweet, passive answer to someone or something. Help us to make wise choices. Give us strength for the journey, for life is not easy. Help us to follow your example, and the examples of the many wondrous women whose stories are recorded in the Bible and throughout history. Thank you for the gift of living life here on Earth. We look forward to the day when we will spend eternity with You!


Are you a "Christian-Nice-Girl"? When do you find it hard to live boldly for Jesus?

[Post by Julie Gernand]

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