By J.D. Davis
Senior Pastor, Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, OH
Focal Passage: Esther 4:6-17
I am sure that you are familiar with the statement “To be in the world, but not of the world,” but have you ever thought about what that really means. Last week, we saw how Mordecai made his stand by not bowing to Haman. This week’s Sunday School lesson centers on Esther making her stand by pleading with the King to obtain deliverance for her people, the Jews. Esther makes her stand in the world of Persian royalty, a very different world from the one she grew up in. She was in her Persian royal world, but she was not of that world.
Esther is challenged to make her stand by Mordecai, who gives us the great statement in verse 14, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther has lived in such an insulated bubble that she is completely unaware of the edict and may even believe that she will be spared as queen. Mordecai’s words are clear that Esther’s world view must expand beyond herself and her comforts in the palace.
Esther begins to embrace the fact that she may have been placed in the position of queen by God for the express purpose of becoming a tool that will deliver the Jewish race. That was not her first thought but through Mordecai’s challenge she embraces her task with such commitment that she states in verse 16, “If I perish, I perish.”
Let’s return to the statement about “being in the world but not of the world.” If we are going to be people who share the deliverance from sin that is possible only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we have to get in the world of the lost. Sometimes I fear that in our effort to live a separate life and not engage in sin, we so insulate ourselves from the world that we fail to be in it.
I am not advocating that we need to be in the world and participate in their sinful actions, but if we are not careful we will live in our religious palace like Esther, and be completely unaware of where people are living in this world. Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17:15, “I am not praying that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” Paul argues in Romans 12:2 that we are not to “conform to this age, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Finally, the apostle John encourages believers “greater is the One in you than the one in the world” (I John 4:4 HCSB).
I could list even more verses, but I think you get the idea, the gospel transforms a believer so they can be in the world and yet not be conformed to the pattern of this world. We are able to do that because the Spirit of the living God is inside each believer and He is drastically different from the pattern of this sinful world. We can be in the world without fear because the Spirit of God changes the mind of a believer so that we begin to see the sinful patterns of the world and how to avoid them. We can also be in the world, but the Spirit of God inside a believer is stronger and greater than anything the world could muster up.
Esther could deliver her people because she was not afraid to step outside of her world and be a voice of change and influence. Believers are called to the same task today because the transformational power of salvation changes us and delivers us to be voices for the gospel.
— Davis is senior pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, Ohio.