A sign of a healthy church is it doesn’t copy and paste from other churches.
Focusing on divine providence
An interesting characteristic of the book of Esther is that God is never mentioned. But this seems to be intentional so that we focus in on the evidence of divine providence and guidance throughout the events of the book.
The story is showing God at work behind the scenes in what might seem like ironic coincidences. Against the odds, Esther becomes queen of Persia. After this, her uncle Mordecai just happens to hear two royal guards plotting to murder the king. Because he has a direct connection to Esther, he’s able to pass on the warning.
Esther informs the king and Mordecai gets credit for saving his life. This ends up being critical for what happens later in the story.
A man named Haman, who is a descendant of the ancient Canaanites ends up being elevated to the highest position in the kingdom. The king demands that everyone kneel before him (like he’s a god) and Mordecai refuses (because of allegiance to the one true God).
Haman is so filled with rage that he persuades the king to enact a decree to destroy all of the Jewish people.
How would this Jewish community be saved from death? Well it turns out that the events that happened to Esther (becoming queen) and Mordecai (saving the king) are instrumental. More than mere coincidences, they seem to have been providentially ordered.
The king ends up being reminded about how Mordecai saved him from assassination and Esther has access to the king to explain how Haman is planning to kill all the Jews (which includes her). Because of these things, what seemed like a hopeless situation is completely reversed.
The king has Haman killed for his plot and he has Mordecai issue a counter-decree that the Jews can defend themselves and destroy their enemies when the king’s initial decree is enacted (a king can’t reverse a decree once it’s made).
The story ends with the Jews triumphing over their enemies and thriving.
God is way ahead
Both the enemy and God are constantly at work, and God is way ahead of the enemy.
The enemy is working to destroy the Church. God is working for it to thrive.
Because He is sovereign, He is using it all (even the Church’s failures) to providentially order His will to come to pass for His Bride.
Somehow in ways we can’t comprehend, within all the events and choices that we make, God orchestrates His purposes for His people. They will not be destroyed.
Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18…
I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
We make choices and those choices determine the paths we go down. We make choices both good and bad, and we experience both successes and failures.
Sometimes we make a wise choice and it seems like we end up failing. Sometimes we make a foolish choice and it seems like we’ve succeeded. Regardless, in some mysterious way, God works with those choices to accomplish His purposes.
We can draw confidence and hope from history. Despite everything the Church has been through, it has endured and will continue to do so.
For such a time as this
In the midst of clear attacks by the enemy (or simply foolish choices by His people), a healthy church stands on God’s providence. The evidence of this will be clear. It doesn’t overreact. It doesn’t make rushed decisions. It doesn’t view its positions, characteristics and situations as random. It views them as part of the process of God’s purposes being accomplished.
It readily accepts the circumstances that come its way and looks to strategically adjust to and take advantage of them.
It keeps a keen awareness of the positions and situations its in and is connecting them to the unique purposes for which God is using it. Mordecai said to Esther…
And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
It was not a coincidence, but rather part of God’s providential plan that Esther had become queen.
Embracing your part in God’s story
A healthy church takes what seem like coincidences and discern how they relate to accomplishing God’s purposes. It sees itself as having a unique opportunity and responsibility right where it’s at in whatever circumstances its in.
Therefore, it doesn’t try and copy and paste in an effort to replicate the experience of other churches. Instead, it embraces its uniqueness and has the courage to take action.
In the midst of it all, it’s brought closer together in unity, love and genuine fellowship as it rallies around the specific and unique part its playing in God’s story right where its at.