Set Apart AND Set AS A Part
No doubt those devoted to Christ were made to be set apart. We hear about our role as the “light in the darkness” or a “city on a hill”. Many times this “set apart”-ness in the world can be confused with separation from the world. While there were those Old Testament stories about individuals who were set TO a wayward peoples (such as Jonah or the major prophets or Esther), there was a pronounced theme of retaining purity of mind, body, and heart. Levitical law denoted down to the detail how to maintain right standing with the Lord. Countless times the Israelites were warned to not combine their customs or lives with those who did not honor the Lord.
In the New Testament, all of this is shifted with the example of Christ. He specifically sought out the Gentiles, the unclean, and the unorthodox. He did not seek these things to become like these things. He still maintained a set apart life even more so than any of us could accomplish because He was without sin. Rather, He sought these things to demonstrate the second piece of our ambassador calling. Yes, as ambassadors we are called to be the light of the world. That light, however, shines brightest in darkness. That light is needed most in darkness. We are to become the light, and to live in such a way that is uncommon and set apart, but we are to do it in the midst of cultures and peoples who still live in darkness.
Esther is a fantastic demonstration of this ambassadorial quality. Comparable to the best Bond film, Esther lives and operates among a people hostile to her own. In several instances it says “Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so” (Esther 2:10). It also says, however, that she won the favor of all around her (2:15). It never says how she obtained favor of all who saw her, but I can't help but assume it had something to do with her uncommon way of living. Her heart being centered around something bigger than herself.
She may have “blended in” enough to be selected for the position of highest honor in a hostile nation, but she was no slouch when it came to holding onto her beliefs. She had a bravery that never allowed her to compromise. When the order was given against the Jews, she broke all customs and even risked her own life by coming before the king unannounced and pleaded for a despised people. It would have been MUCH easier to just sit idly by and stay safe in her cushy palace. She did not, however, lose perspective that her royal position was an ambassadorial one. She had been given favor and connections in a foreign land for a reason- for the glory of God and accomplishment of His mandate to reach all peoples.
Though it was risky and could have gone several ways, she was received, and her people- God's people- were spared. Many times that's where we stop. The bigger picture, however, was not about the Jews being saved. It was what happened in the hearts of those around them.
“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” Esther 8:17
MANY people of OTHER NATIONALITIES became Jews. All because of how God's glory was able to shine through this ambassadorial role Esther served. That is what it is all about. What darkness surrounds the world around you? How are you able to connect with those around you in a way that gains favor for the Lord? What ways can you be bold in sticking to your faith in a way that will amaze those watching your life?