Saying “NO”: The danger of refusing God’s call to action

You might be familiar with the “omni” statements about God. The term omni “is a Latin prefix meaning ‘all’ or ‘every’” (Wikipedia). When placed at the beginning of a word it means all or every of that descriptor. Thanks to dinosaur movies many people know that to be a herbivore is to eat plants, a carnivore eats meat, and an omnivore eats it all.

The “omni” statements about God include some very amazing truths about Him. Our God is omniscient, which means that He knows all things. He is also omnipresent, not being restricted to time and space, He is everywhere at once. God is also omnipotent, which means that He is all-powerful.

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These three ideas quickly come into play when we start to think about and discuss the will of God. If God is all-powerful, all-seeing and everywhere, surely He can accomplish His will very easily. All He has to do is make someone do it. But God is not in the business of making people do things. Instead He leads us to it and gives us the choice to walk in it or ignore it.

This discovery of the way that God deals with humanity is key to learning the truth of the statement that God will use someone else to complete His will if I choose not to complete it. If I ignore God’s leading to speak or to act, He will find someone who is willing because He will always see His will completed. Or will He? And if He does, what happens to us then?

A People in Danger

The book of Esther tells how God used one woman to save an entire people, His chosen people. Jews were living in cities throughout the Persian Empire because God had allowed Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take the people into exile. As time passed Persia conquered Babylon. With the rise of King Cyrus some of the Jews returned to their homeland, but others remained scattered throughout the Empire.

When the king became unhappy with his wife, he made an example of her by putting her out. Once his anger subsided and loneliness closed in on him, the king looked for a new queen. Through a very unholy method, the king “tried out” a wife each night until he found his next queen. The woman who became queen was a Jew, Esther.

One of the rulers in the kings court, Haman, was angry with a Jew who always seemed to upstage him, Mordecai In his anger Haman devised a plan that not only took care of this old man, but every one of his Jewish brethren. They would all be killed on a set day, in every city throughout the Persian Empire. All with the king’s unwitting permission.

When Mordecai found out about what was planned for the Jews he put on sackcloth and ashes, a sign of mourning and brokenness. Esther heard about Mordecai and sent a messenger to learn what was going on. Even before Mordecai asked her to do something, Esther must have felt God’s leading to take action. Her response was that she hadn’t seen the king in a month and to barge in could lead to her death.

The words that Mordecai spoke in response should be a warning to us. You might think these verses are the basis for the “God will use someone else” theory, and they might be. But that is not their intention at all.

And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:13-14 NKJV)

A Choice to be Made

Mordecai had faith that God would see His people saved. There were everlasting promises made by God to Israel that could not be broken by the hand of any king or ruler. And Mordecai’s faith told him that when God moved on you to do something, you had better do it.

There were only two options for Esther. She could remain silent, watch her people be slaughtered, and hope that she would be safe. Or she could speak up and at the risk to herself save the people of God.

Like anyone else, Esther’s first instinct was self-preservation. If she spoke and died, that would do little good for anyone. So she might as well just keep her mouth shut. The man who works in a powerful company and feels like he has to tell someone in the next cubicle about Jesus chooses that his paycheck is important for his wife and kids and their survival, so he goes on in silence. A woman who overhears some aged saints belittling and plotting against the pastor wants to help him out but is afraid of the personal backlash she would receive, so she doesn’t a soul.

Maybe we don’t realize it but when we choose to preserve ourselves we are choosing to sacrifice someone else. For the working man the sacrifice is his coworker. For the woman at church it is the pastor. For Esther it would be the entire Jewish race. Was she really so selfish that she would prefer an extinction of the Jewish people in favor of her own life?

But Mordecai was quick to challenge that way of thinking. “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive” (Esther 4:13 MSG). If their fate was death then she would share in it. And if God was merciful and found another way, then that would be great for God’s people.

The really scary part of these verses is what Mordecai foresaw for Esther if she ignored God’s call. She had found her way to this palace as the queen of this nation “for such a time as this,” the salvation of the Jews. If she obeyed she would be remembered forever. If she said “no,” a different fate awaited her: “but you and your father’s house will perish.”

God Needs You

God has a plan and a purpose. The action that He calls us to will fulfill that plan. In the end something miraculous and life-altering will have happened. Whether it touches a few lives or millions, our lives are meant to receive the benefits of God’s purpose.

What happens to those who believe that their part in the process isn’t important enough? God’s leading on our hearts is His way of saying, “I need you.” Such a statement baffles us because we believe that God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. “What does He need with little old me?”

Yet God’s call to action isn’t like taking over the administration of the free world. God needs us to do just one part. He will take care of the rest. “I need you,” He says, “to do this one thing. Nothing more, nothing less. But without you it cannot be accomplished.”

If God is leading you, then follow His leading. Don’t worry about the backlash, for He knows what will come when you obey. Remember that God has already considered all of the ins and outs, so you don’t have to. Believe that your contribution is so perfect, so tailor-made, and so necessary that your refusal could through the train off track.

You matter. Your words and your deeds have the power to save a person, a city, a people. Choose, like Esther did, to believe that your life has come to “such a time as this,” and join in God’s plan so that you and others can relish in the completion of His plan and purpose.

Talk Back

What has God recently called you to? Did you obey it? Did you ignore it? What happened as a result?

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