Thursday, October 11, 2018

Observations From Esther ~ 9

The Jews have just been given the opportunity to defend themselves against the impending attack by their enemies. We pick up in Esther Chapter 9.

As we begin this chapter we see that the Jews' enemies who had hoped to overpower them were overpowered themselves. We also learn that many have joined with the Jews because they feared Mordecai. They are granted another day to assemble and declare victory over the ones who wanted to bring them harm. 

And this is good.

And they are saved. 

And I am uncomfortable. Because the cost was still high.

Why? Esther 9:5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them.

I will grant you that there are people who plot evil in this world. And until my dying breath I will believe that somewhere, someway along the timeline of their life, someone taught them to hate. I also believe that all of us, even those who plot evil, were created in the image of God. That does not mean they are bearing His image, accurately representing His image, or have any desire to reflect His image. It just means that when He knit them together in their mother's womb, they were created with the same amount of love, attention, and care I was given.

To devalue a life, whether it is someone who has done evil or promotes it, is to devalue the fact that God created that life, has the power to redeem that life, and the desire to restore that life. His desire is ultimately for ALL to come to repentance. 

I don't know what would have happened if the enemies of the Jews had been met with compassion and grace and a desire to talk things out. What I do know is that the text says, they did what they pleased to those who hated them. And knowing the darkness that resides in my own heart when someone does or says something that I disagree with that has a platform and shouts it loudly to cheers with great disregard to value ALL life, I know that I am thankful that I do not have carte blanche to do what I would please. And I will willingly admit that those are the times I need to remind myself of Paul's words to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 

Because my response is an indication of what is in my heart. Something God wants to have at and fix. Because my response is based on my experience of past pain, hurt, misunderstandings, and any number of other things that I have blatantly refused, or forgotten, to deal with.

We must stop looking at people as our enemy. Regardless of what side of the street, fence, or bridge we are standing. What divides us will ultimately kill us unless we start to come together to understand why the division exists in the first place. Our minds might not change and our positions might stand firm, but if we can learn to disagree without the hatred, violence, and threats, maybe the rage that is inside will dissipate and we can move forward in compromise.

You need to know these questions are as much for me as they are for anyone else who takes the time to read them. I have a HUGE wooden beam in my own eye right now because I have yelled at social media posts, comments, live streams, and everything else in the past couple of weeks. (I might not engage in it publicly, but I can honestly say my husband and my children have definitely heard my opinions.) But regardless of where I am standing, the people I am looking at are God's children, and therefore, loved and made in His image. There is nothing I can do or say that changes that. I can only repent of my bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice in the hope that praying for them will cause more significant change than my limited perspective and two cents worth of opinion ever could.

Reflection Questions

1. Who do we view as our enemy? Why?

2. Are we willing to acknowledge the fact that the person we label as our enemy is a child of God?

3. Are we willing to take to heart the words of Jesus when He said we are to pray for our enemies, believing that in the process of praying for them we will begin to see them from God's perspective? Are we willing to do this EVEN IF they aren't praying for us in the same way?

4. What could happen if we spent more time praying for people we wish did things differently instead of shouting from the rooftops all the things we think they are doing wrong?

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