June 3, 2019

For Such a Time as This

Some see society's descent into chaos as inevitable signs of Christ's return.

Stephen Chavez

We all know the story of Esther: how she bravely stood up for God’s people; how, with godly cleverness, she helped to thwart Haman’s plans to destroy the Jews.

When we think of events that challenge us to stand against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we often think of Mordecai’s question to Esther: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

For all the causes and activism that permeate our society, an overwhelming attitude seems to be one of apathy. (Old joke: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care.)

Very early in the church, Christians began to put sins into categories. At the top of the list were the seven deadly sins: sins so venal that those who practiced them risked their eternal salvation.

In addition to sins such as gluttony, fornication, greed, and pride, was sloth. Sloth sounds like laziness; sounds like lying too long in the bathwater. But the original Greek word reflects the idea of apathy, a carelessness about the situations of those who live around us.

Some see society’s descent into chaos as inevitable signs of Christ’s return.

To see a child, cold, alone on the street, and say, “Well, he’s not my kid.”

To see an old man, alone on a bench in the park, and say, “Well, he’s not my dad.” To hurl one final insult at the world: “I don’t care.”*

Another way of saying it: “It’s not my problem.”

You can’t open a newspaper or see an Internet newsfeed without reading about some new atrocity: worshipers killed in a church, mosque, or synagogue; school children targets of some unbalanced person armed with a gun; police officers shot in the line of duty; unarmed individuals shot by stray bullets while sitting at home or in a café.

Invariably, politicians and members of the clergy issue bland statements to the effect: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the survivors at this sad time.” But what are we willing to do beyond that? Are we content to say “It’s not my problem”?

Every Sabbath I go to church where a police cruiser is parked next to the front steps. Every Sabbath I greet the officer who patrols the building’s hallways. Why? Because the problems that affect our society will eventually affect us.

Some see society’s descent into chaos as inevitable signs of Christ’s return. And some, unfortunately, say, “Let it burn; it’s not our problem.”

But I see the challenges that face society as things that can be mitigated by prayer, activism by voice and vote, and a willingness to be numbered with those who are victims of today’s amorality. Because one of these days we may be among those victims.

Esther thought that being queen would isolate her from the problems that affected her fellow Jews. She had to be reminded by Mordecai: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”


* I am indebted to Fred Craddock and his sermon “Who Cares?” for this thought.


Stephen Chavez, an assistant editor of Adventist Review, has become more liberal in his old age.

Stephen Chavez
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