“Sometimes when you loose the title and the coat it is the only way to find character”- Chris Brown, Co-Senior Pastor, North Coast Church
These are the words the pastor used to explain how God sometimes take away things in our lives in order to build our character. The words brought some memories of the last five years in my life to the fore that I could mirror image on this statement as if it was written for myself.
Mentioning it to my husband he immediately could relate to it as well and could still remember exactly when his ‘title and coat’ was taken away from him. The best part of it was that when we reflected on it, we both agreed that even though it was a very uncomfortable time in each of our lives, it was also the beginning of our true walk with God. We have experienced change in the way we live our lives and a much closer relationship with God from then onwards.
I kept thinking about the fact that we could both tell our own stories on this and how I would bet that each Christian in some stage of their life either had a similar experience or probably will at some stage.
Joseph’s slavery experience (Genesis 37-40) is the experience for each Christian who decides to deepen his relationship with God.
Joseph had a pretty good childhood for one of twelve children. He was Jacob’s favourite and therefore quite spoilt. Evidence of this is the long robe with sleeves that Jacob made him to wear without giving anything similar to the brothers. Early in his life he already dreamt that God had a great purpose for him and that his brothers and even his parents will one day bow down before him.
The fact is, that even though at that stage of his life Joseph was probably already a person who had faith in the Lord, he was also one who had alot of faith in himself. His title as the ‘favourite’ and his dress-code would have created a sense of pride in him that would have made him feel better than his peers. At the same time he would probably have felt that he can achieve anything that he puts his mind to, forgetting that his relationship with God is one of obedience and dependence.
In the end all of Joseph’s dreams did come true and God used him to accomplish great things, but before he started on that journey God first got rid of everything that defined the ‘old’ Joseph, meaning the title and the coat. He had to go into slavery to die to himself so that God could build his character in such a way that Joseph could become part of God’s plan and purpose.
That is the definition of ‘salvation’ for us today. The day we accept that Christ has died for us and that his blood is the only way to wash away our sins, we receive salvation. But salvation does not stop there. We can only build our godly character when we let go of some things that are holding us back. We need to become Christ-like, which means that our own pride and selfish character need to die so that God can build us into true Christ followers who live a life that will be a witness of God’s grace and glory.
This will be different for each person and you may have things holding you back in your life that you may not even know about until God ‘cuts’ it out and cleans you up. For me, it was the reliance on a title, pride and the realisation that I am not in control of everything in my life (this is only naming a few).
This clean-up process will continue throughout the rest of my life and yours, but at the same time God is also forming us into new people, and I know that every time God ‘cuts’ away a bit it may hurt, but at the same time I become a better person and more complete for my life with Him.
“I will seek You in the morning,
I will learn to walk in Your ways
and step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days”
Like Incense (Hillsong)