For the Christ follower, suffering and trials are gold-quality-character in the making and God is the one who determines how long the process takes. He alone is the refiner. Job was beaten black and blue by calamity. Yet through it all, he held fast to His confidence in God. Listen to Job’s own words: He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold. (Job 23:10) Job trusted God when it didn’t make sense to trust Him. Now, take our man of the hour, Joseph. Over the weeks, we’ve walked through this young man’s life and left with admiration and wisdom each time because of how his character kept him straight and true in spite of how he was treated. Like so many other heroes of the faith, he learned to see something more in suffering than just sorrow and self-pity. This week, we look at what a proven character looks like through the twists and turns in Joseph’s experience and pray that we learn something about what it means to be stamped with integrity.
How is it possible to cope when people let us down OR when we’re imprisoned in a job OR in bondage in a financial situation OR trapped in a life circumstance that is not our dream or our ideal? How can we cope when hope is deferred? When dreams are delayed? How are we to digest disappointment when we’ve been victimized by unfair circumstances and the mistreatment of others? It’s tempting to turn inward and begin to despair. It’s also tempting to deal with disappointment by lashing out at God…or giving him the silent treatment. If Joseph didn’t question God the first time his obedience and integrity was met with disaster, he might have now. According to the Bible, dealing with disappointment is a high call and privilege. It calls us to “bear up under unjust suffering” because, when you “suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is COMMENDABLE before God” (1 Peter 2:20). This week wee see how Joseph does an amazing job at this and learn how to look up when others let you down.
Why is more of the book of Genesis devoted to recording the life of Joseph, than that of any other individual? For instance, the Genesis record of Adam is covered in two brief chapters in our Bibles; Noah is given only twice that amount. Even Abraham, that worthy friend of God, has only an almost equivalent portion of Joseph in the “Book of Beginnings”. Adam as natural head of the race of mankind is a type of Christ, but Genesis focuses more on Adam’s failings. Noah, in contrast, is presented as a man who through the grace of God lived in a righteous way; he gained the high endorsement that he “walked with God”. Abraham, the Father of the faithful, was chosen by God to be the example of faithfulness in response to the call of God. But Abraham’s life does not typify the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that rise out of His suffering; that privilege is left to Joseph. As it is the Father’s desire that in all things the Son should have the preeminence, so Scripture correspondingly accords the largest portion of the book of Genesis to this man, Joseph, whose life in so many ways is just a picture of that of Jesus. In this series we hope to return again and again to see in Joseph the beautiful aspects of Christ that by no accident form so much of the Genesis record.
Some, misunderstanding God’s overall plan, also misunderstand what the Church is to do. What is the Church’s overall mission? Mark 16:15 tells us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.
Matthew 28:19-20 Tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. Jesus Christ gave His Church—this body of spiritually transformed believers—a responsibility to carry out. The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and make disciples throughout the world, teaching them exactly what Jesus taught. The work of the Church continues; it did not cease when the original disciples died. At first the job of the apostles, the Church’s mission has passed to each generation of God’s people. The gospel is God’s message of how salvation will be brought to mankind—starting with His Church. How are we to do this? Just what is Mt. Zion Church’s role? This week we look to God and ask, “What is our mission?”