Childhood should be years of growing, living and learning surrounded by loving family and friends. Many enjoy an idyllic upbringing but probably just as many don't.
Joseph, son of Jacob, grew up with mixed fortune. On one hand, the favour of his father but, on the other, the enmity of this many brothers. While in some things, one extreme might balance another, in family life this confused environment was more likely to produce a malformed personality than a well-rounded outlook in a boy growing towards manhood.
Joseph wore the sign of his father's special affection - a coloured coat - and, no doubt, each time he did, he raised the temperature of dislike and jealousy in his brothers. Others might have opted for the fashion of appeasement but Joseph seemed to know that honouring his father came with a cost he was willing to pay.
Escaping his brothers - an attractive thought - eventually came but probably not in the way he Joseph might have imagined. From the family home to somewhere between servitude and slavery by way of a pit. From there to a dungeon, seemingly forgotten, surely forsaken. Despite this uncomfortable journey (that would lead to a throne), he remained, unchanged, in Jacob's affections. Joseph's hardships were not the result of his father's changing affections. They positioned him and generations to come in a place where national prosperity would outweigh adversity, a place that would be a launching pad for God's ultimate redemptive purpose expressed through his son.
The church, like Joseph, carries the favour of a father greater than Jacob. It is, often, in the crosshairs of those who hold it in contempt, denying its message and resisting its mandate. It can, of course, adopt a minimalist approach, making itself small, like a victim shrinking from a predator. Or it can stand up and be what it is - the unique creation of God, hidden in his heart until the right time, a movement with its destiny in a world to come but all the while fulfilling a missionary mandate on earth and intent on reaching every citizen.
Each of us like Joseph, have great favour though it may not always seem so. Refusing to shrink back from the Church's mandate is a key ingredient to success.
(Adapted from Stimulus. Apostolic Church Australia)
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