Hi. I’m Monna.
Growing up, I was the president of the “Jesus girl” club. I didn’t drink, smoke, party or kiss my boyfriends. I memorized Bible verses, read devotions for fun and listened to Christian radio 24/7. I knew real Christians voted for “X” political party, didn’t watch “R” rated movies, abstained from alcohol and only had Christian friends. If church was open, I was there. I wanted to follow God and I knew the rules.
Some things about church disturbed me. We preached salvation from hell but not what we were saved to. We used the words “love” and “grace” but practiced judgment. We pushed our morality on others without bothering to care about their unique life experiences, pain or challenges. We believed God chose leaders not by their qualifications alone, but by their (male) sex organs. “Godly” woman submitted to male leaders for fear of disobeying God rather than exercise their own leaderships skills and callings. I felt devalued as a woman and fearful about my standing with God.
Some major life events made me reassess my training and beliefs to figure out if what I’d been doing to “follow Jesus” had anything to do with him at all. My search has spanned decades. In it, I’ve taken a fresh look at the Bible, honestly explored other religions, sought wise mentors and earned a degree in history to gain a context for the origins of my own faith tradition. At times I wondered if my faith would survive the broken things I saw done in God’s name.
My faith stayed intact because I discovered Jesus’s actual life didn’t match my youthful experience of “following” him.
Jesus crossed ethnic, gender, social, and economic boundaries to find those ostracized by “good society” and he treated them as valued and equal. He met obvious needs like food, healing and kindness first and then he met the inward need for love, hope and redemption. The people who encountered Jesus were so moved by his radical love they were changed from the inside out.
Jesus treated women as equals not subordinates. He never suggested, either verbally or with his actions, women should submit to leaders because of their male gender. In fact, women came first a lot in Jesus’s life. Through a woman he entered the world, he appeared first to a woman after his death and women were the first to deliver the good news of his resurrection – to men.
Jesus’s focus on compassion and justice and the way he treated women freed me – from fear and the constraints of a rule-oriented religious tradition. Jesus taught me as a woman I have equal value and opportunity to be a leader in his church. Today, I follow Jesus, not because I’m terrified of hell but because I’m irresistibly drawn to who he is, how he lived and how he loved people.
My passion in life is to love people like Jesus did and to empower women to take their place as leaders in the church and the broader culture. I write about showing compassion, speaking up for justice and crossing ethnic, social and economic boundaries to love and serve people like Jesus did.
Meeting the real Jesus changed everything for me. I hope he changes everything for you too.