The Power of a Dream: Vision, Dreams and Nightmares
A new series started today based on the story of Joseph (Genesis 37: 1-11). In Voorhees Pastor Jeff began with the lineage of Joseph going back generations. Joseph was his father’s favorite and his brothers had jealous reactions to getting the smaller slice of fatherly love.
Being an only child, my experiential knowledge of sibling rivalry is limited. As a professional educator I saw the consequences of favoritism and jealousy. This phenomenon was present in traditional as well as atypical families. Parents meant well, but often favored the child who was more like themselves. It’s hard to accept that unique gifts are not wrong, they are just different pathways from God.
Children always grab the competitive advantage. If being the youngest; prettiest, smartest, most sociable gives you accolades then you’ll take it. The look of distain on a teenager’s face when the teacher said “Oh you’re Johnny’s brother. I hope you’re as good of a student.” The flip side was if the older sibling was a living terror, and a degree of suspicion was automatically transferred. It’s not comfortable living in a shadow no matter what direction it is cast.
In Joseph’s case, his last child, spoiled nature as well as a father who blatantly flaunted his favoritism didn’t help matters. It’s always good to recognize that there are multiple sides to every story. Neither parents nor children are exclusively to blame. Dysfunction is a group exercise, nurtured by both sides.
As the series continues, the pastors will get into many aspects of Joseph; his struggles, successes and failures. Today the lesson was threefold. Jealousy is as destructive as cancer. If not checked soon enough, it cannot be stopped. Second, God does not give up on anyone. He can find a way to make good out of evil. Only human beings classify other human beings as useless or hopeless. Finally, anyone can point their life towards God, but he/she must be willing to do the work necessary to make good things happen. Spoiled children think they deserve every whim. Spoiled Christians think their faith is good enough and probably better than the walk of another.
In the previous series we talked about how you knew if something was inspired by God. Your dream or vision was not about you. It involved others and it served the good of the Kingdom. We all have gifts. We all need to use them to advance the kingdom. If we are jealous of others, we will fail. If our hearts are in the right place, we will achieve.
Pastor Jeff opened with the recognition of the loss of one of our own. Angelo was a man with a noteworthy faith walk. Unfortunately doing Kingdom work does not guarantee longevity. I knew of Angelo but never was in his presence. Nevertheless, his story is inspirational. If you need an example of a life well lived, listen to Pastor Jeff’s comments on the videocast. I’m sure Angelo heard the phrase “welcome, good and faithful servant.”
Before closing on this Memorial Day Weekend, let’s recognize the sacrifices of those who have died for the cause of freedom. Let us pray that their lives were not given in vain. Hopefully by doing Kingdom work someday we will live in a world where we can celebrate our diversity and accomplishments rather than fight over our differences.
Replace jealousy with appreciation. Replace isolation with community. Replace selfishness with selflessness. The world will be better for it. Demonstrate what it means to be a Christ follower.