Here are some comments from a lesson I taught way back 1994. I think I still agree with myself.
In Gen 1:27, "So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Both men and women image God. Just as a man as Husband in some special sense images the Second Person of the Trinity and a man as Father in some special sense images God the Father, so also the woman as mother, finds a model within the Trinitarian life of God also. But where? God has not revealed himself as “Mother.” That is not his Name.
Nevertheless, the source of motherhood is to be found in the attributes and behavior of God. And of the three members of the Godhead, the one that most presents himself as the model of motherhood is the Holy Spirit. The woman as mother models in so many ways the work of the Holy Spirit. You should be studing him, because I believe he was the model in which the woman as image of God was largely (but not exclusively) sculpted.
In Genesis 1:2 the Spirit hovers over the unformed, dark, and unfilled earth like a mother bird. The Spirit is "the Lord and giver of live." Remember that God as the source of all created reality includes the paradigms of created gender within Himself. Within the Godhead there resides the original mixture of attributes that will become the source of created masculinity and feminity. The created qualities of masculinity and femininity reflect uncreated qualities within the Godhead. So the qualities of the feminine in the image of God, the woman, arise out something that corresponds to femininity in the Godhead.
The Father is not masculine in the same way that we creatures experience masculinity. Yet he is the source of created masculinity. The Son is not a boy, as we know boys (but he is the original son, from which all son’s derive their masculine characteristics). The Spirit is not a woman, as we know women—the Spirit is not female. But He, the Spirit, is probably the uncreated source of created womanliness.
Here I believe is part of the answer: The work and roles that the Spirit has within the Godhead are imaged by the Woman. But the Spirit is never identified as female, even though he is often described doing things, fulfilling roles that created females do.
I am not saying that the Spirit is femine. Here me carefully. I am saying that there is a feminine dimension to the activity of the Spirit, which then becomes the source of created femininity. What I am suggesting is that the work that the Spirit does within the Godhead has as its created copy the human woman and mother.
The Spirit is associated with the glory of God and the glory of God with the image of God (1 Cor. 11:7). The glory of man is woman and the glory of God is the Spirit. Woman is the glorified form of humanity, just as the Spirit is the glory-form of God.
Just as the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son and so constitutes their glory (Gen. 1:2). So also the woman proceeds from the Adam and is considered His glory (1 Cor. 11:7).
The Spirit is closely associated with created “life” Psalm 104: 30. The Spirit gives life to all the animals, for example. The Spirit is associated with the “new birth” in the NT—born of “water and the Spirit” and the “re-birth of the Spirit" (John 3, etc.).
The Spirit is closely associated with the Bride of Christ, the church. Donald Bloesch notes: “The masculine refers to the movement of God going out of himself to other members of the Trinity and to the world. He we see creativeness, initiative, and aggressiveness. The feminine refers to the movement of God returning to himself in the role of the Spirit embodied in the church, the bride of Christ. Here we see receptivity, openness, spontaneity, intuitiveness.” Men start things and women finish and glorify what men have begun. Similarly, the Father and Son initiate creation and redemption, but the Spirit brings it to a beautiful, glorified conclusion.
The Spirit is still refered to as masculine. Other aspects of his work display masculine characteristics, of course.
So where are we? What does this mean to me, Pastor? I think it means that God has honored and gifted the woman so that she will in a special sense glorify the work of the HOLY SPIRIT in her mothering and glorifying functions.
Men and boys ought to be able to learn about the work of the Holy Spirit in in the life of the church by observing godly women pursuing biblical motherhood as well as the work of beautifying what the men have started. I think it would be especially helpful if the women were to study the work of the Holy Spirit with a view towards understanding better the way they image the Spirit in church, at home, and in the world.
That's kind of rough, but it makes a few good points. It's just part of my extended outline, and so, of course, I fleshed it out a bit more in the lesson itself.
Always gratifying to find that you agree with yourself. ;-)
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