Genesis VI: The Modern
From the YOUR FAMILY IS MORE DISFUNTIONAL THAN MY FAMILY DEPARTMENT: Tianna Madison won gold on the 4x400 meter relay team for the United States in London last month. Thats newsworthy. But shes making different news now. Her mother and father sued her and her husband for libel, slander, and defamation of character. They charge that the couple spread false stories to media outlets portraying them as bullies and mismanaging Tiannas finances. The parents are so put out they are asking $25,000 a piece in damages. While they were together and happy at the going away to London party, her mom had mentioned publicly that they had spent $100k on the road to the Olympics and were hoping to get something back.
Family is never better than when we sense unconditional love and support. But when you feel like youve been betrayed, when you sense a traitor, family can go real bad real quick. For some of us this morning, the story makers and story tellers we call family are complicated memories. We might question what they did and how they did it, and we might not like what we remember. What do we do with that story?
Thats the quandary of Joseph in Genesis 42-44. These two chapters
give the conclusion of a painful story of betrayal, and he does not
reach the right ending without some struggle. Lets recount the story
before we move to our passage for the day. To go all the way back, Joseph
was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and passed off as dead
to their father, Jacob. Years pass and Joseph suffers in Egypt until
the great break that puts him second-in-command to Pharaoh. It is when
the famine strikes that the brothers come to Egypt to buy food. Who
should they meet but their clean-shaven and well-disguised brother?
And this is where it gets painful. He runs them through a series of
meetings where he requires a brother, Simeon, to be held as ransom until
they bring the youngest son, Benjamin, to
Egypt. They pay for grain and later find their payment stashed in their grain as if stolen. When they return for more grain they take the youngest brother. But when they leave, this scene unfolds: Genesis 44:1-5. For whatever reasoning we might find in Josephs actions in the story, the brothers are paying dearly because of what Joseph knows. And if you know what no one else knows about family, you are certainly facing a prime opportunity.
Note the lower-case o in the word. It is an opportunity, but it is a lower choice. Make no mistake, there is power in being family: we know one anothers faults, frailties, and skeletons. To live that close to people is to see them without halos. More, it is to face the temptation to see weakness, enjoy weakness, expose weakness, and parlay that weakness into gainwhether it is simple teasing or insult or a little guilt for gas money. We all live close enough to someone to see the weakness.
That lower-case o of opportunity can take you to a lot of places you dont need to go, like withholding forgiveness, telling family stories with a shade of sarcasm and cynicism, holding onto the stories of failure and not the stories of faithfulness, and holding onto losses as the excuses for our own failures. There is opportunity in hard family stories, but it is the low road. It is always available, but it is always the low road.
Then there is upper-case O of opportunity. And it unfolds in Genesis 45:1-15. (Read) Nothing Joseph says or does will make the story of his betrayal a good story. But there is an opportunity for something that can transcend the hard knocks of his life.
Family is an opportunity. Or Opportunity. It is your choice.