As much as I love movies, I haven’t been able to watch the Academy Awards for years. Actors and actresses preening on the red carpet; wearing the best clothes money can rent, with the best bodies surgery can produce, sporting some of the most decadent lifestyles and troubled relationships you could imagine — and all competing for the attention of the media and their fawning fan bases.
It’s all a little too much.
I suppose you could make this same observation about all award shows though it does seem that the excesses of the Oscars are more extreme (perhaps they’ve just been doing it longer than the others). And I do need to note that obviously not everyone associated with the event fits the above description. There are notable exceptions and praise God for that.
I think my real point is that when you have a sub-culture whose purpose is to make stars and celebrities out of people, Hollywood is what you will inevitably end up with. And if there’s anything that should be clear, it is that we’re not supposed to be at the center of the picture. It’s not about us and the sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be. Nothing is as damaging to our overall well being as the thinking that we belong in the center.
Contrast all of this with Joseph and his humility and unassuming attitude. He tells his brothers “it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you,” (45:5). Isn’t that remarkable? He sums up 17 years of grief (being thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, and put into prison), as God sending me ahead of you!!! (He’d never get on Oprah with that kind of attitude).
It’s worth noting that such an attitude is remarkably empowering. When we open ourselves to the truth that life is about more than just us, we are free to consider a much larger, grander picture where everything is not measured by whether it increases our comfort level or not. In Joseph’s case, he is able to see that his sufferings have been used by God for a greater good—to preserve his people. (All of this should cause us to wonder if there haven’t been times when we’ve missed out on some glorious truth and empowerment because we were thinking on too small a scale?).
Last but not least there’s the truth that we don’t belong in the center of the picture because that’s God’s place. Thousands of years of history testify to the truth that we make great servants and lousy lords. We are made to image God—not take His place. Just about all our problems from the garden on go back to our failure to recognize and practice this truth. One of the big differences between Joseph and his brothers was that Joseph lived with God in the center of the picture.
The truth is, our world could use more of Joseph and less of Oscar.