Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Your Lot in Life

This week's sermon will be drawn from the book of Esther. A story of love and intrigue It's got all the makings of a full-length movie, oh wait, that's already been done, though not without some embellishments!

Anyway, the key passage I believe is found in Esther 4:12-14,

"Do not think that because you are in the kings 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 royal position for such a time as this?"

As I ponder this passage, and Esther's response to stand up for her people, even at the cost of her own life, I remember that the church has also be raised to a royal position for such a time as this.

If the church has been raised up for such a time as this, then what are we to be doing? Like Esther, we can not just rest in our royal position while those around us are destined for the gallows. We have been given what we have been given for a specific purpose.

Thus, the questions that plague me are these: "For whom are we called to stand for today?" and, "What are the ways in which we are called to stand?"

I suppose our first response is to respond as Esther, to fast and to pray. And then to move forward, and if we perish...well...


Anonymous said...

The latest ---think - or wish - or believe ---and you can have whatever you want craze being promoted on Oprah and Larry King Live is “The secret.” Kind of a believe, wiggle your nose, and presto. You can have whatever you want philosophy.

I enjoyed watching “the secret” being used for skits on Saturday Night Live recently rather than watching yet another high profile Christian Evangelist providing fodder for comedians. It’s so ridiculous that it was humorous to see a skit where someone who lived in a war zone was being interviewed by some heartless idiot who was smugly suggesting that all they needed to do is acquire a positive attitude. I can laugh heartily at that type of foolishness as long as they are not imitating a Christian leader who is making a mockery out of my faith by rubbing salt in the wounds of the less fortunate.

To teach Christianity accurately, one must be willing to embrace “the mystery” and “the promise” not pretend to know “the secret” -- because we only know in part. We see though a glass darkly and will continue to until one day we see Christ face to face. Truth without paradox is not truth at all, but wishful thinking. Yes, God rewards those who believe. Yes faith works. Except when it doesn’t.

I watched a show recently (fiction) where they were interviewing a sexual predator who had killed a child while molesting him. The sexual predator was whining about how life was treating him. The detective said, “Well, you know. Sometimes, bad things happen to bad people.” He made his point.

In reality, we are all sinners who have no right to expect anything except hell and damnation from God unless we put our faith in Christ and allow his blood to cleanse us and make us righteous enough to stand before God as His adopted sons and daughters.

Yet, even those who believe, who have put their faith in Christ rather than themselves, who walk by the spirit and not by the flesh sometimes have very bad things happen to them. If only we really could say to non-believers, “Just put your faith in Christ, and you will be always blessed and never suffer or hurt again.”

Well, we can say that. It’s being said a lot lately and I suppose will be said a lot more as Paul predicted in 2 Timothy 4:3-5. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

It’s interesting to note that right after he warns about sound doctrine, in the very next breath, Paul tells Timothy to do what? Does he say to think positive? Think and grow rich? Believe and Timothy will receive? Nope. He tells him to endure afflictions.

Teaching the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth requires balance. We need to teach that we if put our faith in Christ and follow him by hanging out with winners instead of sinners and live righteous lives, we can probably stay out of a lot of trouble, not be in the wrong place at the wrong time or be influenced to do anything stupid. Thus we will probably be spared a lot more woes than those who join “the world.” We need to teach that it is true that faith is the substance of things not seen, God does reward faith, and it is also true that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

But, bad things happen to good, faithful people like Job too. They always have and they always will. And each of us at some point in our lives will go though times where our faith will be severely tested. Times when we will have to just trust God realizing that in his infinite wisdom, he knows what he is doing and really does have our best interests at heart – even if that faith – the ultimate faith -- seems to defy logic when we look at our outward circumstances whether that faith is tested for :
an hour,
a day,
a month,
a year,
or in some cases like the people in Hebrews 11:13 (“who were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance”)

even if our faith is tested our entire lifetime here on earth.

And that’s the truth.


Anonymous said...

Ooops, posted in the wrong place. Should be under job. I wondered where it went.