Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Living as Kingdom Ambassadors

Esther didn’t know when she was a young woman that her life would take on such powerful significance. She was an orphan who lived with her cousin Mordecai, who adopted her into his family. I can picture her life as happy and her dreams as those of any other Jewish girl: to marry a nice young man and live a life connected to those around her, living out her faith in a culture that was familiar.

But, this isn’t what took place in Esther’s life. She was one of scores of young virgin women who were chosen to come into the palace to become part of the king’s harem as he searched for a new queen.

I believe that Esther was probably devastated by her assignment to live in the palace of the king. Her dreams for a husband and family were dashed because if the woman didn’t please the king, she may never see him again but she still had to live in the harem.

She also had to cross a huge cultural barrier. She was exposed to people that were vastly different in their belief system and their ways of life from her life in the Jewish faith. Because of her faith, her cousin Mordecai told her not to reveal that her nationality or family background.

Esther spent an entire year preparing for the night when the king would summon her. I wonder what she thought about as she went through all the beauty treatments and what clothes and jewelry she would wear. I wonder if she was afraid or if she felt confident. I wonder if she felt like she was betraying her Jewish faith or if she understood that God had strategically positioned her for “such a time as this.”

I see often that when God has a very important call for our lives he does similar things that Esther experienced. He may uproot us to a new location. He may take us away from those that make us feel safe and comfortable and bring us into unknown territory. He may allow our earthly dreams to be dashed, so that he can birth a kingdom dream into our lives. He may call us to be anonymous while he does character work in our lives; preparing us for the day when we become unveiled.

Has any of this ever happened to you? It’s important that we consider our circumstances in the light of God’s mind and heart, not through an interpretation of failure. Losing a job for a time may be just what God wants for us as he develops our character and heart to be ready for the position that will bring about God’s kingdom plans and meaning in our lives.

Moving and leaving the people that are familiar to us may bring much grief but cutting those ties may free us up to follow God in an exciting adventure.

Have you ever felt absolutely invisible? There are times when God protects us by keeping our profile low. This is a gift, not a punishment. There are times when we think that one thing is going to happen and it turns out to be something totally different.

When I was in seminary, Bill and I made the commitment to go and help a new church get started. The pastor promised me that I would work alongside of him to do adult spiritual formation. The church we were attending prayed for us and sent us off for one year of service to this new church.

When I got there, it seemed the pastor had different plans. He told me that I had to do children’s ministry (something that I had done for several years), so I felt pretty manipulated. This new church had a lot of young parents, so it was a challenge getting the help for the nursery and one year olds. It seems that each week I would find myself with crying one year olds during the service.

I felt really angry until one day, I sensed Jesus ask me, “Would you do it for me?” and my heart leapt and I said, “Yes, of course.” So, after that each week that I spent with the crying one year olds was like a special appointment with Jesus even as I continued to be very invisible to the people in the church.

This is when I learned the valuable lesson of “invisible ministry.” When we are willing to become invisible, God is able to use us far more than if we need to be upfront. I gained something really important through my assignment, which from an earthly perspective felt very manipulative, but from a heavenly perspective, I pleased the king!

We know the rest of Esther’s story. She pleased the king very much and he made her queen. She was given access to the king in ways that she could have never dreamed. When her people’s lives were at stake, she is the one who God strategically positioned to help bring forth their freedom, instead of their demise.

Esther was given the role of becoming a Kingdom Ambassador. She was connected to the earthly king for the sake of the heavenly king. She was given an opportunity to do something that required a great risk, but because the King of Heaven was with her, she was able to carry it out and see the plot that the evil one had contrived against the Jews destroyed and actually reversed.

Esther is a picture for all of us to follow. We need to understand that God strategically positions us as Kingdom Ambassadors and although we have earthly kings we need to serve: employers, the government, even our families at times. But, as we stay in relationship with the Heavenly King Jesus, we can understand how to serve him and carry out his purposes, even when they are at cross purposes of those around us.

We have the authority of the King through the name of Jesus:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:18-23

We have the positioning of the King:

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6

We have the power of the King:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Take a moment now to consider your circumstances. Have you been thinking from an earthly perspective about them, or have you asked the king what his ideas are for what is taking place in your life? I encourage you to set aside some time this week to pray through what it means to be a kingdom ambassador. You may be more surprised than Esther to discover what God’s strategic intentions are for your life right now!

No comments: