The world places conditions on who may be welcomed, and even citizens of the most “civilized” nations welcome some and struggle to tolerate others. But the church is called to welcome all, not because of any system of classification or merit, but “because God has welcomed them” (Rom. 14:1ff; 15:7).
The resilience of children is truly amazing. This strength in spite of suffering was again demonstrated to me in a workshop at the Side by Side symposium in Bangalore, India. The story of the struggles of Devadasi children unfolded in a drama entitled “Seeds of Hope.”
Last Sunday I met James Anderson, the African-American father who in 1963 won his lawsuit against the city of Birmingham, Alabama to enroll his children in the local all-white high school (if you're younger than me--32--you may need a reminder that this was well after Brown v. Board of Education made desegregation a federal law).
Esther shows us that leadership is responsiveness to God and to those who are hurting. It is a readiness to self-sacrifice, and it has everything to do with character, intimacy with God, and closeness to those who are vulnerable.
I identify with the Exodus story because of the deep burden and calling that God has placed in my life to guide his people out of slavery and the trappings of this world’s philosophy into his guiding way of life that is grounded in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative?
The book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish woman who rises from obscurity into the royal court as the new queen of King Xerxes. This narrative includes models of leadership that could not be more different from each other.