Yesterday I was driving and I asked my 18-year-old son Alex what does he think Jesus looks like. While he was thinking of an answer, I told him what I thought Jesus looked like. “I think Jesus is an unassuming, ordinary Arab or Jewish man. I don’t see Jesus as a Hollywood glam hunk but someone that we would be blown away by the ‘ordinariness’ of his appearance. I think of Jesus as someone who could have been easily overlooked or dismissed until he got on the religious leaders radar when he started teaching in the temple. I think of Jesus as a short Jewish man with thick curly black hair.
Jesus is the pinnacle of success yet consider that he never owned a home, never married or owned a business. His very life contradicts our worldly idea of success. Of course He was the son of God and could have called down angels anytime yet He lived on earth in His fully humanity.
I told my son that I’m concerned how obsessed our Christian culture is with worldly success. Prosperity preaching entwined with American Christianity can make you feel ashamed for having a job and trying to make ends meet. I’ve even heard ministers preach that your house or car is an indication of your faith. I’ve always been appalled when I hear this because what do you say to the Chinese Christians who lose everything for the cause of Christ or Christians being persecuted for their faith whose homes are taken? Does that mean they don’t have faith because they lost everything for the sake of the Gospel?
Another person who lost everything – his identity, his family and his wealth was Joseph in the Bible. Despite his brothers selling him into slavery, God was still with Joseph.
“When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39: 1-3
Joseph was a piece of property in the eyes of Egypt yet this did not stop God from being with Him and blessing Him. A slave who owned nothing and not even his own life, was called a success by God.
Joseph’s fortunes end when Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of rape. Joseph is sent to prison and God follows him there.
” Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” Genesis 39:19-23
Joseph is a slave and a prisoner and yet God calls him a success. Joseph didn’t own a mansion or have millions of dollars or a following. Joseph had God.
What God calls success is a slave who can influence his master with his relationship with God. An influencer who has a relationship with God which impacts their boss’s business or makes life better for those around them, is a success according to God. You don’t have to own a mansion and be a high-powered CEO or famous celebrity.
You can be a slave and be a success.
You can be a WalMart cashier and be considered a success by God.
You can be a stay at home mom and considered a success by God.
Success is having God with you. When God is with you, you have everything.
Don’t let American culture dictate your definition of success. Set the Bible as your barometer of a successful life.
(Disclaimer: I was influenced by Kris Valloton’s message called “Cultivating Prophetic Families” where he mentions Joseph’s life.)