This is a five-part series on our preaching plan for the next ministry year. These are longer posts, so read the bold highlights only for a quicker review of the content.
Our first series of the ministry year will be on the book of Esther, and we’re calling it “Finding Our Way Back to God.” The plan right now is to spend eight weeks on it.
Esther is the story of a woman named Esther who is living in exile. There’s no escaping the fact that she and her guardian Mordecai, the two main Jewish characters, are compromised in their faith and far from God. They have lost many of their faith distinctions and are basically indistinguishable from their Persian neighbors
This is a story about how they find their way back to God and to a life of faithfulness. It’s also a story of how God works behind the scenes, providentially, to accomplish his purposes through his flawed people (people like us).
As believers we are constantly finding ourselves compromised, adopting the ideas and ways of a culture without God, losing our distinction and identity as God's people.
We are often and sometimes continually duped into false stories of what life is really all about, who we are, and what’s important or right or good.
It’s not good for us, it undermines our ability to pass on our faith to the next generation, it impacts our witness, and it fails to bring God the glory due him.
But it doesn’t catch God by surprise or overrule his grace.
We can learn from the book of Esther how to find our way back to God and to living more faithfully, a life that is distinctive for God.
I found Mike Cosper’s book on Esther, Faith Among the Faithless: Learning from Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad, to be intriguing and personally helpful. He models an approach to Esther that ties her challenges to many that we face. Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:
“Encounter a timeless story of evil, awakened faith, and hope for good in a world where God seems absent.
“Can Christianity survive a secular age? Can Christians live without compromise in an increasingly hostile society? And what if they’ve already given in to that society’s vision and values?
“In this revelatory and provocative new book, Mike Cosper answers these questions by pointing out the parallels between our world and the story of Esther. A tale of sex, ego, and revenge, the book of Esther reveals a world where God seems absent from everyday life—a world not unlike our own. Far from the gentle cartoon we often hear in Sunday school, the story of Esther is a brutal saga of people assimilated into a pluralistic, pagan society, embracing its standards. Yet when threatened with annihilation, they find the courage to turn to God in humility.
“A call to spiritual awakening and to faith in an age of malaise and apathy, Faith Among the Faithless is an invitation to remember the faithfulness of God, knowing that in dark times—as in the days of Esther or our own—God may be hidden, but he is never absent.”
Pretty exciting, right? I can’t wait!