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Editorial: At such a time as this, we are called to serve

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‘If I perish, I perish.”

Esther was probably about 15 when she uttered those words.

Yes, she was queen of an empire that stretched from modern-day Greece to the western bounds of India — and queen to a king who could have her killed for entering his court without being summoned. Not exactly Victoria or Elizabeth.

She was also a sexually exploited, orphaned exile. The sanitized version of Esther that’s been the subject of countless Sunday School lessons doesn’t do her justice.

To review, Xerxes had ditched Queen Vashti because she refused to parade about in front of his friends. So a search began for another queen — and only the beautiful need apply.

After a year of beauty treatments, the candidates got a one-night stand with the king. We don’t know how many young women of Persia were summoned before they were sent on to the concubines’ harem. We just know that Esther pleased the king, and he made her queen.

Meanwhile Haman, a really bad guy and the king’s right-hand man, was outraged that Esther’s cousin Mordecai would not bow down to him. So naturally Haman persuaded Xerxes to annihilate the Jews.

Enter Mordecai and his plea to Esther:

“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?”

Mordecai was persuasive. Esther did not remain silent. She risked everything, and not only did she persuade the king to save her people, but in the process, Haman was sent to the gallows.

Related: Why are some Christians so angry?

The call of God is seldom a call to play it safe. Nor is the call to serve confined to Old Testament tales of a teenage queen or Balaam’s talking donkey or Moses and a burning bush.

Paul writes to the Ephesians, and to us, about such opportunities when he says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

This month’s Christian Chronicle is full of stories about Christians who find themselves in such a time. Christians who serve not just their fellow believers but their broader communities. Who serve not just the safe and sanitary but the downtrodden and abused. Who serve not just family but strangers and aliens.

The Canadian Church of Christ prays Sunday after a wildfire hit the Texas Panhandle town.

The Canadian Church of Christ prays Sunday after a wildfire hit the Texas Panhandle town.

We tell stories about Christians involved in relief efforts for families who lost everything to a relentless fire. About Christians feeding hungry people they don’t know. About Christians caring for young people who, through no fault of their own, are sent far from their families.

We tell stories about victims of gun violence. Victims of nature. Victims of political upheaval.

We are confronted daily by those who insist Christians’ call is to make America great. To march in protest of those whose politics are different from our own. To lobby for safety and protection of our views, religious and otherwise.

God makes no such call.

Our call is to walk into danger to save others, at such a time as this.

CHERYL MANN BACON is a Christian Chronicle contributing editor who served for 20 years as chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Abilene Christian University. Contact [email protected].

Filed under: Bible Editorial Esther For such a time as this Opinion Top Stories

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