[This appeared first at LifeChurchNC.com]
September 23, 2016
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:12-14 NIV
These words jumped off the page yesterday morning during my Chronological One Year Bible reading. These also happens to be one of the most familiar passages in this ancient book (Esther), which chronicles the life of a young Jewish girl who God raises to prominent influence as the Queen of the Medo-Persian empire and how God uses this influence to rescue, and ultimately continue the process of restoring His people. It’s a beautiful and profound story to say the least.
Yesterday morning, many of us awoke to the news of a second straight night of protests that turned violent just 50 miles south of us in Charlotte. As of today, one man who was injured during Wednesday night’s protest is dead, many more (civilians and officers physically injured, businesses damaged and looted – all in the aftermath of a shooting Tuesday involving a Charlotte police officer that sparked speculation and outrage. All of this on the heels of police-involved shootings back at the beginning of the summer in Baton Rouge, LA and St. Paul, MN, which sparked similar reactions to what we’ve seen in Charlotte. These events have since led to the deaths of several police officers nation-wide – specifically Dallas, TX on July 7th and in Baton Rouge on July 17th.
Just when many of us thought these recent stirrings in our society were subsiding, this week has been an unsettling and heartbreaking reminder that this period of turmoil in our nation is far from over. And to be quite honest, aside from the regrettable acts of violence that has further devastated more lives, it doesn’t need to be.
Let that simmer a moment.
During Esther’s reign as queen, a edict had been set into motion which, if carried out, would lead to the destruction and possible extermination of her people. In a desperate plea from her older cousin, Mordecai, Esther was asked to risk her life and use her influence to reverse this edict. While considering the dangers associated with approaching the king uninvited, in addition to do so, not as the Queen, but as a Jewish woman, Mordecai puts things in perspective for her:
Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish…
There is a time to move beyond self-preservation.
There is a time when we have to speak and not remain silent.
There is a time to be part of ushering in the relief and deliverance of God…
…even if it means risking our reputations and our lives.
And that time is now.
Mordecai goes on to offer these words that for many of us, we’re well familiar with in verse 14:
And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
I believe we – followers of Jesus who together make up the active, living, breathing Body of Christ in the world today, otherwise known as the Church – have been called, equipped and positioned for such a time as this. Now is notthe time to be silent. Now is not the time to dismiss what many would otherwise dismiss as misinterpretations of truth, overreactions and unjustified violence.
Now is the time to step further into the mess, to listen with a true desire to understand, and to work even harder for peace and unity, which will only be accomplished in continuing our efforts of Racial Reconciliation. Last Sunday’s Unity Gathering, which we were privileged to host in our Main Auditorium of Life Church, is one of several ways we’re working to accomplish this – by providing a space for people to come together, to pray together, to listen together, to worship together and to eat together. These gatherings are not a way for us to overlook our differences, but instead to recognize those differences and to celebrate them as we unify ourselves around the Cross.
Because, as we’ve said many, many times before, the Cross and the Gospel that flows from it is the only thing that will accomplish full reconciliation, deep healing and lasting peace.
As a follower of Jesus, you have been called for such a time is this – all of your limitations, scars and prejudices.
The certainty is that relief and deliverance will come from God.
The question is, will it come through you?
Will it come through me?
Will it come through the Church?