Do you know what genealogy is?
"The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories."*
In other words…barking up your family tree to find out who you think you are.
Typically this sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, and I'm sure you've already had some convos with your grandparents about your great-great-great uncle who raised cabbage somewhere and met President Lincoln, right?
Or if you're like me, you have a semi-redneck background - if you shake my family tree hard enough, many nuts will fall out.
But enter the new reality TV show "Who Do You Think You Are," and I think you'll see genealogy in a new light. The program features big names like Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, and a few others who have interesting roots and stories that have had a profound impact on their view of themselves. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker is related to a witch… who knew?
So this begs the question, who do you think you are? More importantly, does it even matter?
It sure mattered to Jesus Christ. In fact, one of the most heated debates He ever had with the prideful religious leaders of His time involved a genealogy smack down that will probably surprise you:
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you."
Surprised, they said, "But we're descendants of Abraham. We've never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, 'The truth will free you'?"
Jesus said, "If you were Abraham's children, you would have been doing the things Abraham did. And yet here you are trying to kill me, a man who has spoken to you the truth he got straight from God! Abraham never did that sort of thing. You persist in repeating the works of your father."
They said, "We're not bastards. We have a legitimate father: the one and only God."
"If God were your father," said Jesus, "you would love me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn't come on my own. He sent me. Why can't you understand one word I say?"
Here's why: You can't handle it. You're from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn't stand the truth because there wasn't a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me.
Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I'm telling the truth, why don't you believe me? Anyone on God's side listens to God's words. This is why you're not listening - because you're not on God's side" (John 8:31-33; 40-47, The Message)
Picking up a little tension here? This is one of the original "who do you think you are" arguments on record, and it very much applies to you and me.
How? Jesus draws a spiritual genealogy line in the sand that involves two fathers. Father #1 is God in heaven. His "descendants" are those who love Jesus Christ and have trusted in Him for salvation. At that moment we trusted Christ, we were born a second time into the family of God.
Father #2 is "the Devil," according to Jesus. He's not saying the Jews were all Satanists, but He is making the point that in a spiritual way, children turn out a lot like their dad.
He is also saying that from a spiritual perspective, all genealogies go back to one of two sources (God or the Devil) and I couldn't agree more, because that's the story of my life as well.
Yep, before I trusted Christ for salvation, I acted like my father, the Devil. I lied, I didn't listen to God, and like every human on earth, my sin was the reason for the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
But at the moment of my salvation, my old family records were erased, my sins were forgiven, and I was adopted into a new family with a new Father. That's why I am totally sold out about sharing the gospel with others who are still in the family with the most dysfunctional father who ever existed. Freedom from the past is available through Christ - that's why the word "gospel"
means "good news"!
So do you know who you are now? The Apostle Paul put it best:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Knowing that our unsaved friends and family are trapped in the cruel family of the world with a spiritually abusive father should motivate us greatly to share the good news that the Devil is not the only "dad" in town. Remember how amazing it was when you were set free into the family of God and share that memory with your friends.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"The people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 4:16-17).
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).