Life is full of Dirty Jobs! For a long time I thought taking care of my childhood dog Chance was a dirty job. She would run around the house so ferociously that she at times knocked the couch over; I ate in a defensive position because as the family lore goes, she jumped on the table and devoured my Sourdough Jack from Jack in the Box. Then I became a parent and my whole definition of dirty changed—there were diapers and disasters—but even that is nothing compared to some jobs. What is the dirtiest job you ever endured? We will see how they compare. How many of you have thought about becoming a head lice technician? The job is pretty self-explanatory; with the 6 to 12 million new cases every year this is a job where you have to get nit-picky. For those of you, who love heights, enjoy horrible working conditions, and being frightened then I have a job for you: window washer for some of America’s tallest skyscrapers, where you would put your life on the line and try to avoid becoming one of the 75 people who have died in the line of squeegee. Most of you have had kids and done the diaper thing, but what about doing that full-time as a diaper service worker. Laura Gately who founded her business called Blessed Bums Organic Diaper Service was real blunt about the duties: “It’s a very dirty job. It’s disgusting.”
Dirty Jobs are a part of life, maybe you’ve even seen the Discovery Channel show hosted by Mike Rowe called Dirty Jobs. The guy put himself through all sorts of disgusting and gut-wrenching jobs. One that stands out today is Avian Vomitologist. Mike Rowe tagged along with a researcher named Don, who works at collecting owl vomit packages which include all the undigested little balls of throw-up and then he sells them to universities and schools for study.
Today, we are beginning a new sermon series called DIRTY JOBS that is going to take us through the familiar story of Joseph in the book of Genesis through a unique angle. We will be looking at the dirty jobs he was forced to confront in order to conquer the challenges around him and at the same time look at the issues we may want to avoid, but are essential to moving forward. Mike Rowe pointed out how refusing to address key issues can have devastating consequences: “If your toilet doesn’t flush, it ruins your day. If it doesn’t flush for a week, there are riots in the streets. The guys who do it are wildly under appreciated.” So today, we are going to hone in on the dirty job of junking jealousy/envy, the green-monster inside that at times maybe makes us want to punk—when you see what someone else has, worry about losing what you think is yours, or when you’re pretty certain you deserve more than they do!Joseph’s story of family drama and divine intervention from 3,900 years ago could easily be set in the 21st century. It starts out in Genesis 37; Joseph was the seventeen years old son of Jacob and great grandson of Abraham. He was part of a good size family with 9 brothers and 1 sister, part of a line that had been chosen by God, but this was far from one big happy family…Family oftentimes brings out the worst in us. I remember vividly moving to IL 3 days after graduation, moving in with my mom who lived in the Quad Cities. I went from living with my twin brother and dad, only guys…to living with a step brother, 2 step-sisters, an infant and 1 son in law. This story hits home, maybe it does for you as well. From the beginning, the envy was evident with:
Lipstick on a Pig (Genesis 37: 3-5 ) 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. No matter how you dress things up–there are problems. It is like lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig. You can see the family dynamics playing out without being a psychologist: Joseph is the favored son, but also the hated brother. It is the ornate robe that begins to embody the brother’s envy for Joseph. Each color of the robe probably could have represented a distinct reason they struggled with him: Joseph in his youthful ignorance and arrogance had a way about him—he would give bad reports about his brother, he was quick to share his dreams of reigning over his brothers—their sheaves bowed down to his sheaf, or the sun and moon and 11 stars bowing down to him,” but the root of their issue appears to be jealousy or envy.
The coat was a symbol for the deeper resentment of a deeper emotional struggle—each brother wanted the father’s love, and yet the coat reminded them daily where Jacob’s love rested. Andrew Lloyd Webber brought this story to the Broadway stage in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat and in his music the creative license gives us the brother’s perspective: We’re great guys but no-one seems to notice/ Joseph’s charm and winning smiles/ Fail to slay us in the aisles/ We had never liked him all that much before And now this coat Has got our goat We feel life is unfair.
After a long illness, a woman died and arrived at the Gates of Heaven. The gatekeeper came by and the woman said to him “This is such a wonderful place! How do I get in?”
“You have to spell a word,” the gatekeeper told her.
“Which word?” the woman asked.
The woman correctly spelled “Love” and the gatekeeper welcomed her into Heaven.
About six months later, the gatekeeper asked the woman to watch the Gates of Heaven for him that day. While the woman was guarding the Gates of Heaven, her husband arrived.
“I’m surprised to see you,” the woman said. “How have you been?”
“Oh, I’ve been doing pretty well since you died,” her husband told her. “I married the beautiful young nurse who took care of you while you were ill. And then I won the lottery. I sold the little house you and I lived in and bought a big mansion. And my wife and I traveled all around the world. We were on vacation and I went water skiing today. I fell, the ski hit my head, and here I am. By the way, how do I get in?”
“You have to spell a word,” the woman told him.
“Which word?” her husband asked.
(from the Humor Haus newsletter)
The issue is that we oftentimes tell ourselves that jealousy is justified. While I’ve been a pastor many people have been open about struggles—and yet very rarely do we talk about jealousy. Joseph’s brothers seem heartless, but if we are being honest, we can wrestle with our own technicolor dream coats—our neighbors new boat, our best friend’s new beau, our buddy at work that we used to commiserate with who now is in command. It just isn’t fair we tell ourselves. I want you to see what is going on when we are struggling with jealousy: we end up putting ourselves into competition with the world instead of enjoying communion with God. Paul harks on the way to overcome this envy/jealousy in Philippians 2: 5, 3—calling on us to approach all situations with the same attitude of Christ—do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider more significant than yourselves.” Jesus humility takes us out of competition and puts us into communion with God—communion over a shared purpose of service rather than superiority!