Summary: You are God’s catalyst for change.
Several years ago a movie came out called Bruce Almighty staring Jim Carrey. It’s a good movie about a guy who is frustrated at the way his life is going, so he blames God and tells Him he could do a better job if he were in charge. God, played by Morgan Freeman, grants Bruce all of His powers. Bruce is overwhelmed with the responsibility and, despite his best intentions, makes life for himself and everyone else much worse. I think there are two morals to the movie: 1) We shouldn’t blame God for things that are our responsibility; 2) Only God can handle absolute power and knowledge. In other words, we shouldn’t play God, as we’re often told.
The funny thing I find in the Bible is that we are supposed to play God. In fact, the first chapter of the first book of the Bible tells us that we were created in God’s image to rule on earth in His place. He did not give us omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience to do this. This leads to the conclusion that each human being was created to have dominion over a particular realm of influence. Our task on earth, aside from knowing and loving God, is to faithfully steward and transform our particular area as if we were God over that realm.
The reason the entire world has not been transformed for the glory of God is because His image bearers fail to play their part. Sin entered into humanity through the fall and rather than renovate our realm of influence for the glory of God we tend to consume for our own pleasure and glory. But occasionally we meet exceptions to this rule.
Joseph is one of those few people who exercised dominion over the realm God had given him. He successfully “played God,” thereby saving lives, transforming his family, healing broken relationships, and bringing much honor to God in the process. As I’ve studied these chapters this week, I could not get over the fact that Joseph acted as God in the story. At several different places Joseph’s actions were attributed to God. In other words, Joseph did it, but God got the credit for it. If you want to know what God is like, examine how Joseph conducted himself in this story. He played God extremely well.
I am just naïve enough to believe that this is God’s plan for each of His children. He grants every one of us a realm of influence. He wants us to renovate our realm of influence. The purpose of your life as a follower of Jesus Christ is to bring transformation to the people, institutions, culture, customs, and perspectives of your particular realm of influence whether great or small. You are God’s catalyst for change.
This morning I want to share some of the ways Joseph accomplished this. If you want to have dominion as you were created to do, here are some practical steps toward that end.
How to Renovate Your Realm of Influence
I’ll begin by saying that this is not an easy five-step program. Most of us never get past the prerequisite.
Prerequisite: A long obedience in the same direction
Joseph was trained by God 21 to 22 years before he was ready to meet his brothers again. In that time, Joseph practiced a long obedience in the same direction. He learned to depend on God as a slave in the prison and as part of Pharaoh’s government. He had been so obedient for so long that God’s desires became Joseph’s desires. Joseph not only did God’s will he was God’s will. Joseph was so in tune with the Lord from his long obedience in the same direction that we find him not once asking for instruction in this story. Somehow he instinctively did just what God wanted him to do.
I see a parallel with military training. When you enlist your main task is to obey your superiors. You don’t question the orders of your drill sergeant, not if you’re smart. Commanding officers need not explain their rationale to you. You just do what you’re told. If you’ve obeyed and been trained by someone who is competent you’ll instinctively respond properly under battle conditions. Obedience prepares the soldier for action.
Such was the case with Joseph. He had a long obedience in the same direction and it enabled him to renovate his realm of influence.
If you’re the type of person who neglects God’s commands and lives in partial obedience, you can be sure that you won’t make much of a difference for Him. If your goal is to get through life with your golden ticket to heaven, but you don’t mind abusing God’s grace every once in a while you won’t take dominion because you won’t be ready. If, on the other hand, you strive to please God and follow His commands and walk with Him and know Him and listen for His voice, in other words a long obedience in the same direction, you put yourself in a place to be used mightily of the Lord. When your desires are like His desires, you’re ready.