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Three Secrets to Engaging with Culture

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Three Secrets to Engaging with Culture

Tejdor Tiewsoh is Speaker and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society.

The 21st century, more than any other century, perhaps, is characterised by one word – redefine. Core issues and values of life such as truth, relationships, marriage, meaning, reason, etc, are constantly being redefined to fit in with purportedly more progressive, tolerant and secular outlooks of life and living. And more often than not, it is always the Christian values and way of life that is increasingly being questioned and undermined in today’s culture. As Christians, how then do we respond to, and engage with, the challenges that contemporary culture poses? The biblical story of Esther has, I believe, much to offer us in terms of how to respond to crises and challenges in our culture and in our times.

Amidst the very real threat of imminent annihilation of his people, Mordecai the Jew, Esther’s uncle, challenged this young queen of Persia with these words, “. . . and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). In the Bible, people of wisdom are those who “understand the times” (Esther 1:13 & 1 Chronicles 12:32). As Christ’s disciples, we too, need to understand our times before we can meaningfully engage with the culture. Confronted with such a challenge, Esther responded in three ways which are worth reflecting on (Esther 4:16).

First, she called for all the Jews in Susa to fast for her. Although prayer is not explicitly mentioned in the text, yet, it is clearly implied that Esther and her people fasted and prayed over the situation. There are many aspects to Prayer. Yes, prayer does involve asking, supplicating and interceding, but there is also another aspect to it that we often missed out in this consume-driven world and that missing aspect of prayer is ‘Listening’. Young Samuel in his prayer says, “Speak Lord for thy servant is listening”. If we are to pray effectively, it is imperative for us to rediscover the art of listening to God in our prayers. It was said that when Mother Theresa prayed, she would remain silent for long stretches of time. Her aide once asked her, “What do you do when you pray?” She answered, “I listen”. In Ps. 25:14, the psalmist says, “The Lord confides in those who fear him, and makes his covenant known to them”. What an amazing truth! Before we engage with the world we need to first engage with God, waiting on him in stillness and silence and listening to his voice, for more than anything else, we need his guidance and wisdom to lead us forward.

Secondly, Esther said, “I will go to the King”. Yes, Esther did go to the King to seek his intervention, but she did not approach him foolishly or hastily, but with tact and wisdom. In fact, in her first meeting with the King she did not immediately broached the subject of her people or their impending danger. Instead, she invited him and his confidante Haman for dinner, not once but twice. In Esther’s approach we see her wisdom, and also her patience. As we engage with this world, we need to learn and understand the worldviews of our culture and seek to respond with tact, wisdom and patience.

Thirdly, Esther uttered those classic words, “If I perish, I perish”. After being in the presence of God, she was willing and ready to die for her people, though initially, she was not willing to risk either her position or her life. Oftentimes, our ego and self-love can be the biggest hurdles in Christian life and ministry. It would serve us well to remember Jesus’ words – “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.

Finally, the story tells us that, even before Esther’s disclosures to King Xerxes, God had already intervened; changing the course of events and giving the breakthrough that saved her people from annihilation. I pray that God would give us such breakthroughs in our ministry and in our lives too.

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