Of course there is a new Christmas themed movie out, as there seems to be every year. And this one is as chock-full of talented actors and actresses as an overstuffed stocking hanging on the fireplace mantle.
But will you love the Coopers? Maybe, maybe not. Not that Love the Coopers doesn’t have a few entertaining moments, but the bottom line is that the movie has an identity crisis (like many of the characters) between drama and comedy, and the ensuing conflict robs the magic out of both genres.
Yet for all the movie’s faults, its tagline speaks volumes of truth: “You can’t re-gift family.”
As you probably already know, re-gifting is the relationally questionable practice of taking something you’ve been given but personally dislike, then re-wrapping it as a “gift” to someone else.
And sometimes we feel like that would be a good option for some of our family members—right? Like gifts, we didn’t get to choose our family. And we’ve probably all felt at some time or other that our lives would be so much easier if we could just “re-gift” some our more “challenging” family members in a nice little package to some other family.
But unfortunately—or maybe fortunately—we just can’t do that. Not legally, anyway.
And you know what? That’s probably a good thing? Why? Because God has placed us in our families for a very specific and important reason! The ups and downs, the highs the lows, the good times AND the bad times are all a part of God shaping and molding us for the future He has in mind for us.
Want a perfect example? I got one for you—and it’s from a family whose dysfunction makes the Coopers problems look like minor nuisances.
The family I’m talking about is Joseph—not the father of Jesus—but the one from the Old Testament. His family tree involved one dad who had 12 kids from 4 different women! As if that wouldn’t cause enough drama, Jospeh added to it by telling his family about his recurring dreams of how he would rule over all of them one day. And to make matters worse, his dad played total favorites with him, not only by throwing more affection his way, but by putting him in charge of all his brothers—even though he was the youngest.
So the brothers get ticked enough to beat the stuffing out of him and ditch poor Joseph in a pit. He was then picked up by slave traders and sent to Egypt, where God favored him so much that he rose to the second most powerful position in the entire nation!
Because of his promotion and God-given wisdom, Joseph was able to save the population of Egypt and his family from an epic famine and certain starvation.
Of course his brothers thought he was long dead, so when he revealed his identity to them, you might have expected some very bitter words from Joseph towards the dysfunctional family who’d betrayed him and caused unspeakable pain in his life.
And what were those bitter words? Check them out:
Don’t be afraid. Am I to judge instead of God? It is not my place. Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it only for good, and through me, He preserved the lives of countless people, as He is still doing today. So don’t worry. I will provide for you myself—for you and your children (Genesis 50:19-20, The Voice).
Isn’t this amazing? His family had mistreated him more badly than most, if not all, of us will ever experience, and yet Joseph saw the big picture of how God took the dysfunction and turned it into transformation through forgiveness…
…The man Joseph was transformed because of his forgiveness.
…The family of Jacob was transformed because of forgiveness.
…The nation of Egypt was transformed because of forgiveness.
And so may you also be transformed, my friends, by the power of forgiveness. God has set you within your family for a purpose, but that can only be accomplished by you letting go of all the hurts and disappointments and scars from the past. What family members have intended for harm, God can redeem for His good purposes.
While you can’t re-gift your family, you can re-package your past and re-imagine your future!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
This week, think about any unresolved hurts or bitterness you may have against your family. Take those offenses and the pain and hurt that come with them to Jesus Christ, so He can heal you of the past and use it for good in the future.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, please help us forgive others as you have forgiven us. Heal us from our past, and take what others have meant for harm and use it for good.
Read: Romans 8:28. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Get: You’re Next…Outrageous Stories from My Life that Could Change Yours. Talk about dysfunctional families! Check out the family Greg Stier grew up in! He definitely didn’t come from a churchgoing, pew-sitting, hymn-singing family. His family was filled with bodybuilders, brawlers and thugs. When the organized crime syndicate thinks your family is “crazy,” you know you’re in trouble. In You’re Next, Greg uses real-life, outrageous stories from his crazy younger years to communicate key truths of the Christian faith. Some of Greg’s stories are intense, some funny, but all these true stories taught him a lesson about God’s love and truth. You’re Next will show you how God’s love and truth can transform your life too!
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Want to use this Soul Fuel as a bible study with your students this week? Copy and text them the following: “Even at your lowest points with your family, you can’t re-gift them…you can do something else… Check it out in this week’s devo to find out: http://hubs.ly/H01tMxf0”
Big Idea: God has placed us in our families for a reason, so we must forgive them as Christ has forgiven us.
Key Scripture: Genesis 50:19-20
- What is your favorite Christmas movie?
- How have you seen God use your hurts for your good?
- Is there a family member you need to forgive and move on?
- Are you willing to do that, with God’s help?
- What other ways could you apply this Soul Fuel to living out the THE Cause of Christ?