I remember parking at this enormous Episcopal church on an early Saturday morning thinking, “There are so many other places I’d like to be right now.” The rain was beating down so hard on my windshield that I honestly wondered if it may break through. I had a dress and black flats on, which is a terrible combo to run through the rain in. My faith was low and my self pity was high.
I tried to keep telling myself it was an honor to be asked to speak here, but I was really hoping my counterpart would carry the weight in this one. I eventually approached the front steps and sloshed my dripping self in through the massive stain glass doors. As I found my friend, he looked like he had experienced a similarly defeating morning.
We were escorted to a room behind stage so that we could be prayed for. As we got closer, I could hear loud singing and prayers being spoken aloud. I giggled to myself, out of an awkward insecure place that didn’t know how to process my feelings. It was a jumbled mix of fear and shame for my current state that swirled into a hopeful desperation for whatever they were experiencing in there.
We got a half second to receive the overwhelming overflow of their faith before they broke into celebration of our presence, they pulled us to the center of the room and began praying over us. They prayed for our hearts to be unified as we spoke, for our minds to be engaged with the holy Scriptures and truth, and for our mouths to speak words led only by the Holy Spirit.
My eyes filled with joyful yet convicted tears as I was flushed with borrowed faith. This was the faith that showed itself later that day in front of a crowd. Our influence was a direct result of the fasting and prayer of these people. Freedom was experienced because of their selfless intercession for a couple broken vessels.
The Faith of the Community
This story is not told often, but people experience this same thing every day. It’s often someone else who gets us through whenever we’re face to face with defeat, sorrow, anger, or injustice. Their faith is what reminds us of our own, or better yet, their faith is what stirs up our own. When we forget who we are, what we believe, and how we endure—our people remind us.
It’s often how we have strength to keep moving. I’d even say, it’s one of the best ways we can share in Christ’s victory. That’s more than a reminder of the gospel; it’s an imitation of the gospel.
The Faith of Esther’s Friends
This story is found in Scripture, probably more than once, but it’s often overshadowed by the glorious triumph. Esther is the victor of her story found in the Old Testament. We think of her as a queen of deep graceful courage.
We commend and celebrate her faith to beckon the King’s attention and command the freedom of her people. Her faith can’t be disregarded by any means, but let’s look at the text closer.
The Faith of Mordecai
In Esther 2:5-7 we meet a man by the name of Mordecai. These verses describe his family line, but most importantly that he took Esther into his family—how he raised, provided, and shepherded her as his own daughter.
It was because of Mordecai, that Esther even had a safe place to call home. In verse 11, after Esther is taken as wife by the King, we hear of Mordecai again. We learn that he faithfully walks by the palace gates every single day to see and fellowship with his daughter. He doesn’t abandon his responsibility but he increases it.
The Faith of the Other Women
Following this passage, we find Esther 4:12-17 where she is challenged to speak on behalf of the Jews. Mordecai has urged her to do so, and she finally relents. However, her strength here is rooted and grounded less in her own faith and more in Mordecai and the young women appointed to her.
As Esther struggles to accept the mantle given to her, the young women dig deep into fasting and prayer. It is my firm belief that they actually lay the ground for her to walk on. If Esther was not surrounded by these people, she would not have the audacity required to boldly approach the King’s throne.
Don’t Forsake the Mission
This is so crucial to the practice of our faith, the value we place on community, and to the daily walking out of life. If we forsake the unity of believers, then we will eventually forsake the mission of God. It is one thing to make mention of how we need each other, but lives change when we begin to believe that we can’t accomplish the call of God without one another.
We must know one another deeply enough to encourage our giftings, challenge our weaknesses, and exhort us into God’s personal call. The truth is, even that’s not enough. We have to join together for the work of the ministry. The Church (not the gathering but the people) need leadership, gifts of mercy, prayer, service, evangelism, generosity, gifts of healing, encouragement, wisdom, worship, teaching, and the list goes on. If one of these is subtracted, then something is missing and needs will be unmet.
To be totally honest, that makes me fearful. It scares me to know that if believers aren’t walking in their God-given gifts and identity, then other people are going to suffer. If we aren’t functioning as a body, then we won’t be working as a body. We will be broken, lacking, and divided. And honestly, most of our churches look more like this then like healthy, fruitful, growing bodies. Numbers don’t do what gifting does.
The Freedom of Walking Together
Connecting these thoughts, if we humbly acknowledge our insufficiency then we can more confidently walk in our ability. We experience grace in the dependence and faith of God’s people. If we are walking like him, serving like him, and loving like him then we will look more like him too. This lifestyle leads to freedom, not just for us but for many. It happened for Esther, and it will happen for us. People will be set free when we live how the Church is called to.
First, know your gifting. Find an online test, ask your loved ones, seek wisdom from your church leaders, or even take a class. These tools will help you discover and grow in your personal gift set.
Second, it’s essential to know the gifts of your community. Where do people suffer and where do they thrive?
Third, seek and even create opportunities to practice your gifting with one another. How and when can your community come together to meet needs? These needs are more than service, but needs of prayer, leadership, healing, wisdom, etc. Look closely and ensure that the right people are flexing in the right ways.
Last, invite people into the folds of your community. Let disciples of Christ learn from watching your community share in the difficulty and the celebrations of life.
Chelsea Vaughn (@chelsea725) has served a ministry she helped start in the DFW Metroplex since she graduated from college. She received her undergraduate degree at Dallas Baptist University in Communication Theory. She does freelance writing, editing, and speaking for various organizations and non-profits. She hopes to spend her life using her gift for communication to reach culture and communities with the love of Jesus.
You can read all of Chelsea’s article here.