Saturday, July 4, 2015

On July 4 I'm more than an American; I'm an Estherian

Citing the Old Testament these days for cultural and spiritual relevance is tricky business so I carefully and thoughtfully approach referencing an Old Testament personality in order to highlight a few of my personal perspectives. And not only is using the Old Testament a currently questionable practice, the book of Esther can take the discussion to another level still. The canonization of this book has always been a matter of controversy since God is never mentioned, even though God's providence seems undeniable.

But enough about God, the Old Testament, providence....lets talk about me- or perhaps more accurately, us. We had no say when or where we were born. Like it or not, randomness and luck appeared to be determining factors for where we are in time and space.

Randomly and luckily I find myself living at what appears to be a time and place that may be unique if not special. I'm lucky to be living in a postmodern world which affords me the undeniable opportunity to challenge things and theologies that I might've otherwise accepted unwittingly resulting in spiritual stagnation- a sad description still of many people today struggling to fight off inevitability.

I'm also randomly and perhaps lucky to be living in America. As a follower of Jesus, I'm finding it uniquely challenging to transcend nationalism and separate that which is true of me as a citizen of Gods kingdom from that which I've grown to believe as an Americanized Christian. I'm hopeful that by living in a country that is currently having a severe identity crisis, I can live Jesus' life and not that which is currently represented politically and religiously.

Which makes me want to coin a new moniker: Estherianism (since we need more labels!). If we peer into the book of Esther and prayerfully reflect on what we read there about her, it's possible that the time and spaceless Spirit of Jesus through whom our faith filter is calibrated, can make her situation comparable to ours and we can find rivers of living water flowing from within us.

Esther found herself randomly living in a context she didn't choose. I doubt that as a Jew she wanted to be one among many young girls whose life would be defined by the pleasure she provided a powerful man. Her cousin Mordicai saw a bigger picture and challenged her with vision and opportunity. He baited her with possibilities that could be hers because of randomness and luck- and perhaps a bit of providence. Esther was asked by Mordicai if she could grasp that she was living in a unique time and found herself in a unique place. How could she know if she might not have been born for just such a time?

Like those of us who want to please God yet find ourselves confused if not angry in the context we live in, Esther must've struggled with the grandeur of Mordicai's invitation. We read that she accepted the randomness of her position and the opportunity that came with it. And like many of us who by accepting the perilously blessed challenges of randomly finding ourselves alive in our time and place, she resigned to whatever the future might hold by such a decision. With no promises or assurances that all things would work together for her good because she was yielding to her best understanding of a God that's not even mentioned, she soberly and resolutely declares that if she is to perish, so be it.

I'm grateful that I live at such a time as 2015 and in such a place as troubled America. At whatever cost, I hope to be what Jesus says I am and live incarnationally within my frame of reference hoping that my light attracts the people with whom I come into contact to the One I'm still figuring out. And if I perish, I perish.

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