For Such a Time as This
When Queen Vashti offended King Xerxes, he took the advice of his counselors to depose her and begin searching for another to take her place. Word was sent out, and all the beautiful young virgins were gathered from every province of the kingdom and brought to the palace where they would each, in turn, be presented to the king so that he could choose the successor to Queen Vashti. Esther, of course, was among those taken to the palace, but she did not tell anyone that she was Jewish.
Now think about this for a minute. Here is a young woman who had already lost both of her parents and was being raised by a cousin. She is now taken away from her home, from her friends, and from the only family she has left, and she is sequestered in a place that is totally foreign to her. I am sure that she found herself completely out of her comfort zone, but this separation was absolutely necessary if she was going to fulfill God’s plan for her life.
Separation is also a necessary part of the process that God puts us through in order to prepare us to fulfill the plans that He has for our lives. But what is separation really all about? Some would tell us that separation means that we must avoid contact with anything or anyone considered by them to be “worldly.” Depending on who sets the standards, this can include such things as watching TV, going to movies, wearing certain clothes, playing or watching sports, dancing, listening to non-Christian music (and even some Christian music), going to theme parks, etc. They even tell us to have only such contact as is absolutely necessary with anyone who is considered “dangerous.” This includes not only all non-Christians, but also those believers whom they consider to be “too worldly.” To justify their position, they like to quote 2Cor.6:14-18 in the King James version which says,
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
No wonder many believers are reluctant to get “radical” in their faith! They have been dissuaded by what they have been told about how much they must “give up” in order to follow Jesus. But those who would try to dictate to us how we should live are missing something here: God is more concerned with issues of the heart than with anything else. While man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1Sam.16:7). These legalistic naysayers don’t seem to realize that when someone’s heart is separated unto God, the heart itself helps that person decide which activities and relationships are pleasing to the Lord and, therefore, proper for him or her to be involved in.
However, this kind of separation is not something that comes naturally or easily. The “original sin” that we all inherited from Adam means that our hearts are naturally attracted to the things that would draw us away from our relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. Even after we come to know Him, we still have to deal with the things in our hearts that try to pull us away. David understood this, and that is why he cried out in Ps.51:10 for God to create a clean heart within him, and why in Ps. 86:11 he asked God for an undivided heart. Paul also expresses this dilemma in Ro.7:21-25 (The Message), where he says,
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
So, then, the key to having a heart separated unto God is pressing into a more intimate relationship with Jesus. That relationship must become more important to us than anything else. That is why, in Mt.10:34-39 (The Message), Jesus says,
Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me. If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
Now, He is not telling us that we should not love our families or look after ourselves in certain matters; what He is saying is that He must be preeminent in our lives! When He is more important to us than life, itself, or anything or anyone in it, then our hearts are truly separated unto Him. That is the separation He desires for us. Although we have not fully attained it yet, let us keep pressing in to know Him more!
Next: Part 3, Transformation