As I ponder the question of my title to this article, the simple answer is that Joseph looked like the Egyptians. He dressed like them. He was manicured like them. He smelled like them, he talked like them, he had etiquette and education like them. He combed his hair like them (dedicated to all the cool youth pastors out there). But, he was still different…there was something different about him. He was incarnate in the Egyptian culture and lifestyle, but still served our God. “He moved into the neighborhood” as Pastor Eugene Peterson would say.
I know what some of you seasoned saints are saying/thinking…you are quoting II Corinthians 6.17 in your head,
“Come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (NKJV).
This is a quote from Isaiah 52.11. In the Isaiah passage, God was calling His people to separate from Babylon and its idolatry. The Corinthian church was having similar issues with idolatry. Both passages have to do with pagan idolatry. But, allow me to take it a step further.
If by chance, you misinterpreted this passage and thought it meant to separate/divide/depart from people, let me help you. How and why would God ever ask us to separate from people? On Sundays, all of us little Christians get together and shine our light in a building we call church. But, when we disperse, the real missions work begins. If God wanted us to be separated, then why would we evangelize? Why did Jesus evangelize? Why did Jesus tell us to make disciples? I will go a step further and say that if a relationship that you have with someone causes you to fall away from God or practice idolatry, then by all means, BE. SEPARATED. FROM. THEM. Notice I did not say any relationship with an unbeliever, because Paul clearly teaches us that a believing spouse can win over an unbelieving spouse, so stay married (I Corinthians 7.14). Sometimes we may have to separate from Christians who are practicing idolatry (humm…oooo…ouch!) In Matthew 28, Jesus gave us our orders…’Go. Make. Disciples.’ In order to do that, we must engage non-disciples and we must be incarnate. If we only have friends who are saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost, then we are not doing our job. Go find some unsaved people and get to work.Starting a Fresh Expression could be just that easy. Be present. Be incarnate among your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and yes, even strangers and see what God does. Click To Tweet
Meanwhile, back to Joseph. Joseph lived, worked, and played among pagan people who worshipped other gods. Did that stop him from doing his job? No! He was favored of God and worked in the marketplace for the Lord. He was good at what he did and God prospered him. We are called not to separate from the people, but to be incarnate among the people like Jesus and Joseph were. Starting a Fresh Expression could be just that easy. Be present. Be incarnate among your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and yes, even strangers and see what God does. Let’s be inspired by Joseph’s example. The world and the Church are waiting on you!