Skip to main content

I don't fit in

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter - all are celebratory times in the Christian faith. In a world as diverse as ours, we see all kinds of "customs" and "ways" of doing or celebrating things or seasons that are somewhat different from those we may have been raised to observe ourselves. The passage of time even affects the customs and ways of various people's celebrations. Just look at the tendency to all eat dinner as a family in the 50's being replaced with the "catch as catch can" type of family gatherings we see today. Or consider the 'old way' of setting up a room so it was good for conversation vs. today's custom of setting it up so it is good for TV viewing or playing games on the game system! Yet, when a people holds to a custom, there are always going to be others who will find some fault with it.

Haman then spoke with King Xerxes: "There is an odd set of people scattered through the provinces of your kingdom who don't fit in. Their customs and ways are different from those of everybody else." (Esther 3:8)

When we are 'different' than others, we stand out as 'odd' to some. Haman was not as concerned about Mordecai (the cousin of Esther) being a Jew as much as he was concerned about Mordecai refusing to bow down to him in some sign of awareness of his "masterful" position he had obtained in the government. Haman had been promoted to the "top dog" position in the local government - the highest official of the land next to the king himself. In keeping with this "regal" position, he desired the pomp and circumstance which went with it! Bowing as he passed was just one of those "customs" he desired to see from those who were considered to be his 'subjects' in the land.

Mordecai was a Jew faithful to his upbringing - and that included his customs and his allegiance to only bow down to one thing - the God he served. He knew the teaching of the Law of Moses - you shall have no other gods before me. In other words, he would not bow before any other - only God himself - not another human, no matter what their 'rank' was in society. It was not a thing of disrespecting Haman, but a matter of honoring God. As a result, Haman labeled him, and his fellow Jews, as "not fitting in". I guess King Xerxes had never really observed the customs of the Jews as much of an affront to himself, but he liked Haman, so he went along with the plans of the "little weasel". It is truly a sad day when the leadership of the land cannot, or will not take time to investigate the circumstance presented to them before allowing the passage of a rule which impacts so many! The vote of the "popular" may not always be to the advantage of the rest of society!

The message which spoke to me today in the study of this passage really centered on being a people who just "don't fit in". Mordecai was not content to "blend in" with all the others in society. He had an "identity" in his heritage which he held as his current manner of behavior. In fact, Mordecai was never disloyal to the king or the authorities of the land. He had even uncovered a plot to harm the king - being sure to get word of the plot to the king through Esther so it could be thwarted before it had a chance to work out. In short order, the king dealt with the rebels who plotted against him, recording the actions of Mordecai's "good deed" in the annals of the king. So, on the day when Haman came to complain about Mordecai, why didn't the king remember him? I imagine the king had many loyal "citizens" of the land and a great deal on his mind as a ruler. Haman never presented Mordecai as the "ring-leader" or as the instigator of this attack on the Jews. In fact, I think he cleverly worked it out to purposefully NOT tell the king about Mordecai being a Jew, or an observer of the 'odd customs'. It was his intolerance of the Jewish customs and ways which motivated him.

We are often faced with customs and ways which we may not fully understand or appreciate. I am not saying we need to be tolerant of those that hurt others or lead others into bondage of soul, but we do need to be aware of the heart behind the actions. I personally don't wear dresses to church - but I have attended churches where this was the custom (and I honored their custom). Two lessons for us today. First, look at the heart behind the custom. When we focus only on what we see and not what is being "lived out", we often miss the purpose of the custom. Second, leaders do their best when they pause long enough to consider each action in light of all of those they represent. When decisions are made in haste, based on one man or woman's input, without adequate investigation and preparation, we often miss the unintended harm which comes in our moment of inattentive action. Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce …

Give him the pieces

What or Who is it that causes division among you right now? Maybe it is more of a 'what' than a 'who' that is creating the division between you and something you need in your life. Perhaps you are struggling with an addiction to something that keeps coming between you and true liberty from the hold that thing has on you. Yes, addiction is really the worst kind of enslavement one can imagine - being so emotionally or psychologically attached to the 'thing' that any attempt to break free causes so much trauma in your life that you just cannot imagine being free. But...God is above that addiction - he is stronger than the emotional or psychological pull that thing has in your life. Maybe the dividing force in your life right now is a 'who' - a tough relationship challenge between you and a coworker, a spouse that seems to no longer share your interests or values, or even a relative that doesn't understand some of your choices and now chooses to withdra…

Period!

When someone tells you that you need to wrap your mind around some concept, they are telling you that the subject at hand will take some effort on our part to actually get enough of a hint of it in order to even remotely understand it. The subject is complex, even a little overwhelming, and we will have to apply ourselves to really grasp it very well. We cannot wrap our minds around God's wisdom and knowledge - because it is infinite and our brains are sadly finite. We can only 'think' so far and then we have to 'trust'. Some of us think there is nothing we can trust if we cannot 'think' it through, but this will never work when it comes to our faith. Faith requires trust in what is unseen and not fully comprehended. The truth we believe is really building our trust, but until we approach God with more trust than 'thought', we will never fully grasp some of the things he has prepared for us.

We cannot wrap our minds around God’s wisdom and knowledge…