In fact, the comics that trace Professor X's origins reveal he was a slightly different man in his youth who hadn't yet received the hard lessons of life. In his younger years, the chairless Charles Xavier was rich, intelligent, and even a gifted athlete. With his psychic abilities that allowed him to read minds, see glimpses of the future, and even control other people altogether, Charles explored the world. He was an adventurer seeking fame, fortune, power, and even love.
One day, a battle of biblical proportions with an alien who was bent on destroying the world and appropriately named Lucifer left Charles a changed man. An injured spine paralyzed him from the waist down and stuck him in the wheel chair he would become known for. The powerful Charles Xavier had been humbled and seen just how short this life might be. He decided to make his life count and spent the rest of his time on earth forging a legacy he could be proud of. He founded Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and formed a team of X-Men with the goal of seeing man and mutant live at peace.
It's interesting how life experiences that knock us down can lead us to realize what really matters and guide us to make the most important decisions of our lives. Joseph from the Bible was a young man very much like our mutant friend Charles. He has a privileged childhood, a talent to see the future, and it takes some rough experiences to lead him to his calling in life. Here's his story.
Joseph was born into a family so dysfunctional that it makes the Osbournes look like the Brady Bunch. Let's start with his dad, Jacob. Jacob married a girl named Leah . . . by accident. He took care of her, but never loved her. He was tricked into marrying her by a manipulative father-in-law, a heavy wedding veil, and some beer goggles. He was trying to marry Rachel, Leah's sister! But being married to Leah doesn't stop Jacob, he marries Rachel anyway. Jacob had the kind of love for Rachel that you see in chic flicks. In fact, the Bible says that Jacob had to work seven years to be able to afford to marry Rachel but it seemed like it was only a few days to him because he loved her so much. So he ends up with two wives. Sound crazy yet?
So Leah starts popping out kids for Jacob and Rachel starts growing jealous of her sister because it seems she is barren. So, like any rational person would, Rachel tells Jacob to sleep with her maid and any kids they have together will count as hers. Leah, who has always been jealous of Rachel because she is loved by Jacob, sees that Rachel is catching up to her with the babies. So Leah tells Jacob to sleep with her maid and any kids they have will count as Leah's. Finally, Rachel gets blessed by God and ends up having two of her own children with Jacob, but she sadly dies during the labor of the second one. In the end, Jacob had four wives, twelve sons, and at least one daughter.
Spoiled & Cocky
In the midst of a family always envying one another and fighting for dad's attention, Joseph was the son the dad loved the most. He was Rachel's boy. He had his mother's eyes. Joseph was spoiled and all of the other siblings knew it. Joseph got the best birthday presents, the biggest portions at dinner, and dad always took his side. When Jacob gave jobs to his sons, he would send Joseph to check on them and report back. Joseph became a tattle tale always ratting his brothers out to his dad. The favoritism became painfully obvious when Jacob came home one day with a gorgeous, expensive, flamboyant tunic for Joseph and nothing for the other kids.
Dreams of the Future
When he was 17, Joseph started having dreams that hinted at the future. His dreams told him that one day his brothers and even his parents would bow down to him. That dream could be handled arrogantly or humbly. He could keep it quiet and share it calmly with his dad and ask for advice. But Joseph chooses the cocky route. He brags about the dream to his brothers to the point where they are furious and his father has to rebuke him.
Up until this point in the story, Joseph's life has always been about Joseph. His father treats him like he is the center of the universe and it sure has sunk into Joseph's heart. He is cocky and arrogant. He doesn't think of helping or serving others because he is spoiled and has always been the one getting served. He doesn't even seem to think of God much, but instead gives all the glory to himself by bragging. God has given Joseph an amazing gift to see the future and interpret dreams. God wants to use Joseph. But God has a lot of work to do to teach Joseph that his talents are not for himself. His talents have been given to him to serve others and glorify God.
The Long Hard Road to Humility
Things get rough for Joseph and it starts at home. His brothers explode on him one day and jump him and toss him down a well. They talk about killing him or leaving him there to rot, but they decide to sell him into slavery to some traders traveling by. This lands Joseph in Egypt as a slave to a man named Potiphar. In a flash Joseph goes from being treated like King Curtis at home to being a slave in a foreign land. He works hard as a slave and ends up slowly moving up in his duties until Potiphar puts Joseph in charge of the whole house and doesn't even keep an eye on him anymore. That's when things start to take another turn for the worse.
Potiphar's wife was likely a beautiful woman. She starts trying to seduce Joseph. The old Joseph, who thought the world revolved around him and was used to getting what he wanted might have obliged her. After all, Potiphar didn't pay attention to what Joseph did anymore. But years of slavery had begun stripping away Joseph's selfishness and pride. This Joseph refuses and tells her that it is more important to him to serve Potiphar and glorify God than to serve his own desires. But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:8-9) Potiphar's wife is a beautiful and rich woman, not used to being told no, so she accused Joseph of raping her and has him thrown in prison.
In the jail, Joseph has even less freedoms than he did as a slave. It's here that he eventually meets two men who worked for the Pharaoh who had been locked up. The Pharaoh's baker and cupbearer are in the slammer with Joseph and both have weird dreams. Joseph interprets the dreams for them, but before he does he says something that again shows us that he is growing in humility before God. Then Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams." (Genesis 40:8b)
After thirteen years as a slave and prisoner, the Pharaoh has a crazy dream. The cupbearer remembers the weird guy from jail who could tell the future from dreams and tells the Pharaoh about Joseph. Listen to the humility of Joseph before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.""I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires." (Genesis 41:15-16) He goes on to say the dream is a warning from God that seven years of great abundance will be followed by seven years of devastating famine throughout Egypt. Joseph then advises that the Pharaoh ration the food now in order to survive the famine. He comes up with such a good plan that the Pharaoh makes him a vizier, one of the most powerful men in all of Egypt.
The Moment of Truth
During the years of famine, Joseph's family back in Israel are starving. Ten of his brothers come to Egypt to buy food. Benjamin stays home with dad as the new favorite, the other son of Rachel. They end up standing before Joseph. They don't recognize him through all of the Egyptian garb and makeup, but he recognizes them. Can you imagine the anger that would well up within you at this moment? Here they are. The good for nothing, jealous brothers who left you for dead and sold you into slavery. Thirteen years. THIRTEEN YEARS of slavery and imprisonment because of them. And now Joseph is the most powerful man in Egypt aside from the Pharaoh. Think of all of the wonderful ways he could get payback. He could have them all killed, no questions asked! Better yet, give them a taste of their own medicine. He could make them slaves for a few decades or toss them in prison til they rot. The old Joseph, the spoiled brat at the beginning of this story, might have done just that. But that Joseph had died long ago. His pride and ego had been broken over the years by God.
This Joseph was still angry, so he tests his brothers. He wants to see if they have really changed. Are they still the jealous men who ruined his life all those years ago? He sends them back home to get Benjamin and, when they come back with him on their second trip, Joseph frames Benjamin and makes it look as if he stole from Pharaoh. The guards then "find" the "stolen goods" on Benjamin and the brothers are brought before Joseph for punishment. Joseph puts on a show acting as if he will keep Benjamin as a slave. Would the brothers let their jealousy for dad's new favorite take over or will they fight to save their brother? Judah speaks up and pulls a Katniss Everdeen. Judah volunteers to be punished in Benjamin's place. And that's all Joseph needed. He breaks down crying and promises to take care of his brothers and give them all they need. He even forgives them saying, "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." (Genesis 45:5)
In the end, Joseph uses his talents and position humbly to serve others and bring glory to God. The old Joseph would have gloried in his revenge over his brothers who hurt him. The new Joseph is willing to forgive and humbly surrender to God's bigger plan. He uses his position to serve and provide for those who hurt him and gives all of the glory to God.
Super Talents Plus Super Humility Equal Super Glory
Like Joseph and Professor X, we've all got gifts, talents, and privileges. We can pridefully use them to serve ourselves and make our names great. When we do, we'll find we make enemies of those around us and fail to live out our true calling that God has planned for us. It's when we humbly surrender our lives to God and learn that we are not the center of the universe that we can really do amazing things. When we use the talents and privileges God has given us to serve others and not ourselves, we will be able to do great things for God's glory that really matter. We may even find ourselves with a chance to be like Joseph by humbly serving those who have wronged us and sinned against us and giving all of the glory to God. No one did this better than Jesus Himself, who humbly served and forgave us sinners who had rebelled against Him by dying in our place to provide us salvation and eternal life.
It's not always easy to remember that. Just like Joseph and Professor X, it may take some drastic life experiences to teach us this important lesson. Let's not force God to teach us the hard way! So whether your life is peachy keen or falling apart, let's humbly surrender to God and ask, "How can I use what you have given me to serve others rather than myself and to honor Your name rather than my own?" When we do that, I think we'll find our lives truly begin to matter.
- What are the talents, privileges, and position that God has blessed you with?
- How have you used them to serve yourself and glorify you own name?
- What are some ways that God may have or be trying to humble you?
- How can you use your talents/privileges/position to serve others?
- How can you use them to bring glory to God?
- How can you use them to serve and love those who have hurt, wronged, and sinned against you?