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Many of us are highly privileged, although we seldom accept that we are. Privileges can often lead one to become dispassionate about the social issues that are going on around us. In fact, privileges are quick to become instruments of oppression. A person who grew up in an affluent family is quick to look down on those from modest backgrounds and call them lazy. Folks from privileged backgrounds often blame people stricken with poverty for their own misfortune. We tend to get logical and analytical about emotional things when we do not suffer the same fate as those going through the raw emotion. When one has witnessed how privileged people use their privileges to oppress their fellow men, it is easy to categorize privilege as a negative thing. However, privilege can be used for good. If a privileged person allows the spirit of God to lead, privilege can be a force for good. Being privileged is a blessing. In fact, one can surmise that we are privileged so that we can use our privileges to do good. Yes, we are blessed to be a blessing. We are privileged to bless. The case of Esther in the Bible readily comes to mind about how she used her privilege to bless her own people.
We read in the book of Esther how young Esther became aware through her cousin, Mordecai, that there is a plot to destroy the Jews. Being a Jew herself, she is in the position to use her influence as the Queen to deliver her people from the evil plan. Many times, when we find ourselves in privileged positions, we become unmoved or unconcerned by the issues that unprivileged people must deal with. “I live in the United States, so it is not my problem whatever is happening in Sierra Leone.” “I am from Southern Nigeria so, I do not care what happens in the Boko Haram battle-ground of North-Eastern Nigeria”, or “thank God I live in Ohio where we do not have hurricanes, folks in Florida and Louisiana can deal with their problems.” We become dispassionate about these issues because we believe they do not concern us. For Esther, acting has some inherent danger for her, so her initial reaction was why endanger my life for something that does not directly affect me? Mordecai’s word for her was “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:13-14. This is something we must all make a point to remember. Whatever privileged position we find ourselves in is so that we can use it for justice and healing through the instrumentality of love.
Mordecai has thrown a challenge at Esther. He has basically reminded Esther that you did not put yourself in this position of privilege. The one who put you there put you there for a reason and the time has come to fulfill that purpose. Every privilege we have comes with immense responsibility. Some folks misuse it because of the power that comes with privilege and people can get drunk with power sometimes and use it irresponsibly. Esther ended up using her privilege well. She was able to convince the King to save her people.
People of God, having a roof over our heads is a privilege. Having a car to run our errands with is a privilege. Having enough money to get all our needs, with leftover that we save for the future is a privilege. Being in a position of authority is a privilege. Knowing Christ is a privilege. Every one of these privileges comes with power that can be used to save some other folks who are struggling and who need a helping hand. When we use these privileges well, we can help heal and transform lives for the better. Being privileged is being a light in the dark, we must shine our light for those who are lost to find their way home. Of course, the devil never fails to keep trying to make us go the opposite way. This is the challenge of our faith, that as children of God we must refuse to hearken to the bidding of the devil and allow the spirit of God to take absolute control of our lives so we can use our privileges to bless and not to oppress. May God give us a compassionate spirit, reveal our privileges to us, and help us to use them with compassion in Jesus’ name.
September 12, 2021– Pastor Simbo Odunaiya