For such a time as this . .


A few weeks ago I reread the Bible book of Esther. It is a novella that has all the ingredients of a good story: beautiful women, power, treason and a happy ending, when the bad boys are eliminated and the people with courage triumph. At the same time it is a very unusual story. In a Bible book we would expect to see the name of God, but in the Esther saga God is never mentioned, at least not directly. And Esther may be the heroine of the story, but that does not take away from the fact that she agrees to participate in a beauty contest and to become part of the royal harem, before she receives the status of queen.

But there is more in this fascinating story. A high official (Haman) almost succeeds in pushing the king to satisfy his anti-Semitic sentiments and to rid the Persian Empire of all Jewish inhabitants. However, Mordecai and Esther find a way to prevent this. That requires great courage. Esther must approach the king and confess to him that she, in fact, is also Jewish. And she is to tell king about the evil plans of Haman. Mordecai instructs his niece and he suggests that events went the way they did so that Esther would get the opportunity to do something really important. He says: ‘Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14).

It seems to me that this text fits perfectly with the beginning of a new year. We live in a time that is no less exciting than that of Esther. That raises the question: ‘How then should I live in ‘such a time as this’?  Will we be clear about our Christian identity at moments when it really counts? Do we dare to show the same courage as Esther did, and make it crystal clear where we stand?

Many countries will hold their national elections in 2017—the Netherlands is one of them. Do we make our political choices ‘in a time such as this’ on the basis of our Christian worldview and values? And will we be courageous enough in our daily life and our activities in society to show that we are inspired and led by our Christian beliefs?  And do we, also within our faith community, have the guts to follow our biblically informed conscience, even if that will not be appreciated by all? How do I live my Adventist Christian faith in 2017—‘in such a time as this?’

In short: How do we profile ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2017—‘un sich a time as this?’ This is not just a general question—it is a question that I must also personally respond to.