232. Ancestry

The apple does not fall far from the tree...

The apple does not fall far from the tree…

I enjoyed a series on Ruth by Alistair Begg recently and he concluded with a message on “The Mystery of History” – how God weaves time, people, and places together to create history.  Ruth, for instance, was born into a culture opposed to God, married an Israelite in direct opposition to “the rules,” and yet she is honored in Scripture as “a woman of excellence” who has an entire book that bears her name and figures prominently in the bloodline that gives rise to King David and eventually, the Lord Himself.  Begg is quick to point out that Ruth’s example does not give us license to be unequally yoked in marriage, but her story challenges everyone to note that God honors this woman’s attempts to seek the truth and orchestrates her life’s circumstances (although they look exceedingly bleak, especially in the beginning) in a way that only He can.

In one of the light moments of the message Begg said a few words about the popularity of researching your ancestry online these days:  There you are online doing whatever you need to do, and then you see an ad for “ancestry.com” in the sidebar.  You click on it…and [gasp!] it’s as you’ve always hoped!  You’re Scottish!!

You have no idea how funny I thought that was.  I’ve obviously been laughing over his faux ancestral research scenario for a while now – so much so that I felt compelled to write this post.  Ed, you recall, is Scottish, like F and Alistair Begg – but the real impetus for me writing this was that Timmy spoke on Sunday and one of his points was that the believer’s goal is to be recognized as a child of God.  Wow – when I typed the phrase “child of God,” I suddenly got nervous, like that might be overstepping.  But it’s not – Christ made a way for us to be adopted.  One of Ed’s favorite phrases is, “You got some scripture to back that up?”  Why yes – thank you for asking:

Romans 8.15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

I John 3.1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…

But what if you click on the ancestry.com link and everything is NOT what you had always hoped for?  Many people come from family lines full of all kinds of trouble – some of it resides in history, or it could be ongoing.  Some might even come from families whose name is in school textbooks under the heading: “perpetrators of great crimes of the 20th century.”  This kind of baggage would be heavy indeed.  Although you might be doing everything you can to make good choices for you and your family today, what happened in the past necessarily influences how you think and how others think of you.

There is wonderful news, though – the decision to follow Christ involves a name change and a whole new way of seeing.  It is radical enough (heart transplant, anyone?) to disrupt the paradigms built from birth since the renewing of your mind (Ephesians4.23) is prescribed and within reach.

134.  A Whole Other Way of Seeing Things

134. A Whole Other Way of Seeing Things

Oh, and before I forget – don’t worry if your past is so ugly its shadow haunts you 24/7.  God can handle your shame and regret.  Take comfort in the fact that His Son bore every single shameful, ugly thing on the cross.  He knows everything already and persists in loving us.  He is not surprised, grieved, but not surprised, by the things we confess to Him.  But for the repentant believer, there’s hope – a new day, a new direction, a new life.

2 Corinthians 5.17   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

 

 

13 thoughts on “232. Ancestry

  1. Ning….. what a huge comfort your “Ancestry” post is to me this morning. Just want to let you know that while Paul encourages the elder sisters to teach the younger, sometimes the younger can give the elder ones a really big hug and a “leg up” as they keep on with the “up-hill walk”. love, as always, Mrs. Balsam

  2. 🙂 Besides the wonderfully encouraging thoughts you share here, my second favorite thing in this post is Ed’s “tough love” line: “You got some scripture to back that up?”
    Those Scots, I tell ya! 🙂

    • He said I wasn’t allowed to go to the counselor (at one time my medical peeps were encouraging me to go) if he couldn’t come too and sit in the back and say that occasionally. I am actually a supporter of professional help in many cases but in this particular context I found it unnecessary. Plus it might have made things worse to show up with my horse :).

  3. This post of spiritual ancestry reminded me of something interesting that someone pointed out once. It was in a movie I saw when I was young, but unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you which movie it was. They pointed out that God has no grandchildren.

    The idea was to emphasize that no one is automatically in the line of God because their parents are children of God. One must be born themselves as a direct child into God’s line. The thought itself was interesting to me, but it also spawned another thought that I found astonishing. I realized that if God has no grandchildren, then His family tree is absurdly flat. Since you like diagrams and charts, I thought you might appreciate the idea of a family tree that’s billions of people wide, but only ever one person deep – no subbranches anywhere!

    In addition to all the other blessings that a son or daughter receives, I found this flat tree astonishing because of its inheritance implications. If every single person is His direct son or daughter, then every single person in God’s family tree receives the full, lavish blessings that sons and daughters inherit. There is no dilution down parental subbranches that would occur in a normal family tree. I’m just struck by how infinitely and overwhelmingly large both His love and resources must be to adopt and provide for such a family. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us” indeed.

    Sorry, another long rambling post 🙂

  4. I had no idea Ed would be a sassy Scotsman!

    This entry definitely reminds me of the days I worked in an evolution lab on human genetics. This phase was particularly daunting for me spiritually, since unsurprisingly, many evolutionary biologists do not ascribe to any notion of our origins found in Scripture. I have been ridiculed among my peers for not “totally” believing fundamental theories of evolution and was seen as “uncommitted” to the mission of basic biology. (Where was Ed for backup?!)

    I feel as if society makes it a trend to see who your ancestors are to reveal surprising facts from the “family fact book”, as you have mentioned in this entry. What saddens me, honestly, is how people ignore the ancestry every human, and by extent, every living thing share in our biochemical blueprints. The layered nature of genetic phenomenon is key to understanding the brilliance and sheer omnipotence of The Almighty. It provides a glimpse of the technical workings involved in the world’s beginnings as first detailed in Genesis. It’s absolutely beautiful (and unashamedly geeky) to appreciate how AMAZING the Lord is from this perspective!

    There’s always a hope that people approach the issue of our ancestry with very open minds. Secularly (and unfortunately also popularly), this means to view this topic without Christ in mind. Trusting a collection of ancient scrolls is deemed as ignorance in favor for seemingly irrefutable scientific data of modern times. But it’s absolutely critical to interpret this data as a supplement to documented accounts/history, aka Scripture, because it validates what we continue to see today – socially, physically, and scientifically. What other testament from the beginning of recorded human history manifests itself generation after generation after generation? Nothing other than the Bible. It’s a shame how the world continues to reject Christ and the best revelation one can deduce to without first possessing concrete evidence from a laboratory.

    Anyway, this was more of a rant than a comment (and it’s also WAY past my Sesame Street bedtime) so I’m going to call it a night now.

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