Recently a group of Pastors met with President Trump regarding prison reform. I intentionally stayed as far away from this topic as humanly possible. Why you ask? Because I’m passionate. Sometimes too passionate about things that don’t concern me or that I am not qualified to comment on.
Then it happened.
In a moment of frustration, I said the right thing with the wrong heart. I immediately called a mentor that holds my utmost respect; to help me get back on track. In speaking with this person, they admitted their confusion as they unpacked “that John Gray thing” and Pastor Jamaal Bryant’s subsequent commentary. To be fair Pastor Gray was not the only one in attendance. There was a round table of faith leaders there to discuss prison and economic reform in communities of color.
Let me start by saying I have my own political views and opinions. However, I understand the importance for us all to be represented equally. A world of people who only think like me would be beige void of color or sound. BLAH!!! Also, I believe in the importance of prayer for leadership including national and world leaders. Whether I agree with them or not. What I don’t believe in is bowing down to an idol when horns blow. (Daniel 3:5) That’s what I saw when I read the transcript on whitehouse.gov. I heard praises being sung rather than the needs of the people being expressed. But really, I’m not a political analyst nor was I at the table. I could be way off.
Do you know how we decrease recidivism and improve financial stability for people of color? Prevent incarceration in part through adequate schooling, affordable/adequate housing, affordable/adequate insurance, increased employment opportunities with adequate pay and eliminating food deserts. How about rebuilding the cities like Nehemiah did instead of passively allowing them to crumble then gentrifying them? There is an African Proverb that says, “the child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth”. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you inner city America. It’s burning! Meanwhile, the seeds of division sown by the enemy result in our continued reaping of disaster and destruction.
Honestly, the Christian community could fix so many world problems by just seeing people as children of God. Even “those people”. Christians can get involved. We can serve in neighborhoods other than our own. We can fellowship with churches who serve different populations. We can show the love Christ in everyday encounters. We can write our Congressmen about issues that may not directly affect us but our neighbor. We can vote for candidates who represent all people not just those in our demographic. We can also hold our elected officials to the fire when they don’t deliver on their promises. Most importantly we can find commonalities with people we seem to have nothing in common with.
How do recent events and my random rants connect to Christ?
Welcome to the Book of Esther!
For those who’ve never read the book of Esther or have forgotten here’s a brief recap. Stay with me. It’s important. I promise.
During a time while Jews were in exile in Persia, King Xerxes throws an extravagant series of parties to show off and celebrate his wealth. I mean this was a party! 187 days of free-flowing wine and fun. The King sent for Queen Vashti to show her beauty while wearing her crown. Vashti refuses (notice she is no longer referred to as Queen). The King consults wise men who advise Vashti should no longer come before him since her behavior could cause all the women to despise their husbands. (Really guys????)
Now begins the task of finding a new queen.
• Enter Esther a young Jewish orphan being cared for by her uncle Mordecai, was among a haram of girls gathered for preparation to possibly be chosen as queen. This isn’t a romantic scene from some love story. Esther an orphan is in exile in a foreign land essentially being trafficked for the possibility of being chosen by the King.
• Esther is favored by the overseer who’s preparing the girls.
• The King winds up loving her more than the others and crowns her.
• After a series of events including a plot on the King, evil Haman being promoted and manipulation leading to a decree for destruction of the Jews.
• Mordecai sends word of the decree to Esther and a request for her to plead with the King for her people. The people he is not aware she belongs to.
• Esther responds reminding her uncle that there is a law stating whoever goes into the Kings inner court without him sending for them will be killed and he hadn’t called on her for a month.
• Mordecai responds basically saying do you think you’ll escape this massacre? If you don’t act deliverance will still come for the Jews. However, you and your father’s house will perish. Just maybe you have been positioned for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)
• Esther tells Mordecai and the other Jewish people to fast with her for 3 days and nights. Then she will break the law and call on the King.
• Fast forward Esther tells the King of the decree, Haman is outed, the Jews over power their enemies, Mordecai is promoted within the kingdom and the annual feast of Purim is declared
Read it! The book of Esther is better than reality TV.
Let me connect the dots:
Hollman’s Illustrated Bible Commentary states the book of Esther shows Jews(Christians) can “effectively serve in positions of high responsibility while maintaining their Jewish identity and their commitment to the God of Israel.”
Sometimes as Christians we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. Situations that can have detrimental consequences to our career, prestige, life and wellbeing if we go against the grain. Nevertheless, we are called to be salt and light. Defenders of the faith. Supporters of the widow and fatherless. Who knows if at that uncomfortable moment you are being called for such a time as this? Don’t dim your light. I don’t profess to know what God reveals to each person. But we must try the spirit by the spirit. We cannot afford to have people manipulate or beliefs for selfish gain and political backing. Ending up with a voiceless seat at the table as the people who Jesus walked, talked and ate with are trampled in His name. We must stand especially when it’s uncomfortable. We must be bold like Esther especially when the stakes are high!
You are omniscient and omni present
Your word says all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord
Lord we love you
Lord we thank you
For as many opinions that I have at least I live in a country that allows me to hold my own views and opinions
Lord God throughout the book of Esther we don’t overtly see you moving
However, at the end we see you reign supreme over all things
We see victory for your people
I have faith in you and your ways though I don’t always understand
Lord I pray for all leaders of the world including government and the church
Lord I pray that leaders begin to leave denomination, class and color out of decision making and move in the best interest of your people
God I thank you for the leaders that sat at that table and I pray that they move by your spirit
Building bridges and reaching across the aisle to truly bring a voice to the voiceless
In Jesus’ name I pray