Just a few days ago, I was in Lusaka, Zambia. Halfway around the world, I was in the minority. My skin is white while virtually everyone else in that foreign culture has beautifully dark-pigmented skin. I’m a “muzugu,” a white person who sticks out in any African crowd.
Esther was a Hebrew girl who had grown up as an exiled captive in Persia. She was probably not distinguishable by the color of her skin, but below the surface, deep within her heart, she knew that she was a minority. All the other girls in the palace came from polytheistic, pagan cultures. She was odd, because she was convinced that there is only One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When the beautiful Hebrew maiden was conscripted for the king’s harem, she was told to keep her ethnicity a secret, to not reveal her belief in Jehovah, the God of Creation. “Esther did not reveal her ethnicity or her family background, because Mordecai had ordered her not to make them known” (Esther 2:10).
Mordecai didn’t explain himself, but Esther complied with his wishes. Maybe Mordecai had the God-given foresight to know that Esther’s position as queen would be advantageous to her people. If she revealed her identity, she’d be overlooked as a candidate to be queen. “Keep quiet, and maybe Ahasuerus will invite you to become to his wife, the queen of the Persian Empire!”
Or perhaps anti-Semitism already existed in that environment. To reveal her identity would be dangerous. We know that some in the kingdom, including Haman, hated the Jews. “Keep quiet, and maybe Ahasuerus won’t feed you to hungry lions.”
Today, God tells us to boldly, proudly, reveal our identity. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). It has always been God’s desire to “make you a light for the nations, to be my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
Since Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), his followers should reflect that light. He’s like the sun, so we should be like the moon.
Like lights from a city illuminating the dark countryside or a lamp inside a house providing light for all within, Christians must let their redeemed lives shine before the lost and dying world so that they might recognize God’s saving grace.
Jesus wants His faithful followers to stand up and stand out. “Everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33).
When the time was right, Esther did reveal her Hebrew heritage. She did stand up and speak out. And when she did, she shined brightly, and her boldness made a difference!