Remember the fiasco back in 2012 when a Member of Parliament was embroiled in a sex scandal? And then the Lee family dispute over the Oxley House? Everyone loves juicy gossip especially when it’s about the famous and important.
But have you heard about the Prime Minister who was involved in a human trafficking case? He was sold off to a foreign land by his brothers as a young child! What’s even more shocking is that his siblings initially planned to murder him. Reports say that he was his father’s favourite, which caused a lot of jealousy among his brothers who eventually decided to get rid of him by killing him.
Eventually, persuaded by one of the brothers, they decided to sell him off instead. From enslavement to imprisonment, this boy would rise to become Prime Minister one day. You probably know whose story I’m talking about by now.
This is the story of Joseph and his eleven brothers.
Many of us know how the plot develops.
Through a series of events, Joseph eventually became the Prime Minister of Egypt – second only to Pharaoh. Then his elder brothers came to Egypt to seek help during a severe famine, having heard they could buy grain in Egypt. Joseph immediately recognised his brothers even though they did not know who he was.
Now what would you do if you were in Joseph’s shoes? I’d take revenge, probably. I mean your brothers abandoned you and sold you off!
What Joseph did was to keep nine of his brothers in custody, while sending one back home to bring to him Benjamin, his full brother from the same mother who hadn’t followed the rest on the trip to Egypt.
While Joseph seemed strict and severe towards his brothers, we know from the later part of the text that his heart was soft towards them (Genesis 42:25).
When the brothers returned to Egypt a second time together with Benjamin, Joseph had to find a place to weep upon finally seeing his long-lost brother.
He threw a feast for them where Benjamin had five times his brothers’ share. And then Joseph sent the brothers back with provisions once again. At this point, it is clear that Joseph had no evil intentions towards his brothers. But he “framed” Benjamin for stealing something so he had a reason to retain him in Egypt by his side.
Of course, the brothers were horrified. Judah begged Joseph to let Benjamin go, asking to take Benjamin’s place, saying their father would surely die of a broken heart if the last of his first wife’s two sons was also taken from him.
Upon hearing this, Joseph could no longer control himself. He made the Egyptians in the room leave, and wailing, finally revealed his identity to his brothers: “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?”
I could understand why Joseph hid his identity: his brothers had hated him enough to sell him off – he must have wondered how things had played out without him. But what I couldn’t understand is why he suddenly decided to stop the show.
I came to believe it was because Joseph suddenly recognised who stood to lose the most in a family feud – their father. The fight may have been between the brothers but it was the father’s heart which hurt the most.
I wonder if it’s the same for us in church. Do we realise that conflicts and unforgiveness in the church grieve our Father the most? It’s not uncommon to have disagreements within the church. But while some fights are like erupting volcanos, others are more like unseen tremors hidden beneath the surface.
Disagreements spark cold wars, and cold wars themselves fade into an unspoken and awkward tension.
Do we realise that conflicts and unforgiveness in the church grieve our Father the most?
Most people like to simply sweep things under the carpet and move on with life, avoiding the other party as much as possible.
If you’ve been around long enough, you probably know who fell out with who, and who not to put together in the same room. I know this because I’ve had my fair share of fallouts too. And while I may have already forgiven the person in my heart, I often fail to take that first step towards reconciliation.
I honestly find it easier to play pretend, than face the elephant in the room.
But as children of God, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation – first to God, and then to people. As priest and kings, we are also commanded to be witnesses for Him. What kind of witnesses would we be if we are constantly embroiled in fights and disagreements, testifying against one another like we’re in a family court?
I don’t know what’s holding you back today from reconciliation. Whether it’s pride, hurt, embarrassment or something else … would you lay them down?
Don’t grieve our Father. He’s waiting.