Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Heritage of the Church

When I was growing up, people loved to tell me about the importance of heritage.  Some would say, “You’ve gotta know where you’ve been in order to know where you’re going.”  Others said, “Don’t forget where you come from.”  Still others insisted, “Take pride in your roots!”

I had a problem with that.  I didn’t like everything about my heritage.  I had wonderful parents, but there was a history of addiction and abuse in my extended family.  We were poor and lived in a small, rural town.  People in the city referred to my kind of people as “red necks.”  I didn’t like any of that.  I dreamt of the day that I would grow up and leave those parts of my heritage behind.

The challenges of that heritage didn’t bother my parents as much.  They identified more with their friends at church then they did their family members.  The people at church worshiped Jesus like they did and that created a powerful bond.  In honest moments, I’d admit a close bond with them too.  They were the ones who taught me the read the Bible, gave me piano lessons, gave me birthday gifts, and showed up when our car was broke down on the side of the road. 

Looking back, I realize that the church gave my parents a new heritage.  Because the people at church worshiped Jesus like us, they became our family.  The riches and wholeness of the church’s Godly heritage replaced the poverty and brokenness of our earthly heritage.  We were adopted into the family of God.

The Gospel of John describes that adoption beautifully.  John writes, “Yet to all who received (Jesus), to those who believed in (Jesus’) name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”   What John is saying is this: when you come to faith in Jesus, you are given a new heritage – no matter where you come from or what is in your past.  You are a part of the family of God.

As you worship this morning, remember your heritage in Christ.  You are one of Jesus’ people.  Members of your family are worshiping Jesus along side you this morning.  In fact, people of every tribe and tongue, all over the world, are declaring Jesus’ worth as members of your family this morning.  We all trace our family tree to the same root of David.  Don’t forget where you come from, Christian.  

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