Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why all the genealogies?

When you ask my 4 yo what he wants to be when he grows up, he always responds "a daddy".  We are so blessed to have a great dad.  I hope that his desire remains steadfast because it is a countercultural idea these days. 

Christianity Today ran an article challenging youth ministers to consider placing priority on raising families as a mission field.  Many churches have focused so much on foreign missions that raising a family is almost seen as a "lesser" calling in many communities.   Let's renew our thinking.  

Family has always been at the core of God's plan for culture.  I am not referring to passages about how to raise your family (although they are important); I am talking about genealogies.  How many times have you skipped them?   It's just a list of names- right?  EXACTLY - it is a listing of the faithful who reared families, engaged in traditions, worked for their food and trusted in God.  Consider Ruth, a foreigner with no prospects who becomes great, great grandmother to King David.  Did she know that would be the fruit of her faithfulness?  All of the genealogies are included as a testimony to the value God places on "normal families" living for him.  

I personally have to fight this battle constantly.  Surely God must be calling me to something "more important" than raising three kids.  But that is pride.  I have to renew my mind (since my culture tells me a different story) and remember and trust what God says about raising the next generation as a blessing and a sacred trust. We must be very intentional about passing this calling and vision of family onto our children.

Although advocating a strong marriage and raising children may seem like setting a block (maybe a cornerstone) into the making of a sturdy wall (or blessed life); in this generation, it can be taken as a declaration of war or judgement.  Do you think women can't do more?  Who are you to judge the shape of families?  There are so many pressures?  God has grace to cover the realities of life. However, we don't need to list the exceptions for our children.  We must cast a vision of family that can sustain them in this culture, that goes beyond the "rules" of the Bible.  They need a cloud of witnesses, a stock of stories, that can help them remember what family means, how it can be shaped and why it is at the core of God's plan.  Reminding them that God is not in search of perfect families but faithful ones.

For a slightly more modern example of a "Godly heritage": 

Sarah Edwards, the wife of preacher Jonathan Edwards, [married 1727 - 3 sons and 8 daughters] was featured in Noël Piper's Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God. By the time a longitudinal study on their descendants was published in 1900, Piper found that Jonathan and Sarah's 11 children had gone on to produce a U.S. Vice President, three U.S. Senators, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 66 physicians, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, and 100 missionaries. Also, members of the family wrote 135 books. from Christianity Today her-menutics,  []are my additions

There is no doubt that Jonathan Edwards impacted his own generation, it's called the Great Awakening. As he was out traveling from town to town, studying and exhorting others to follow faithfully, who do you think raised their children?  Sarah Edwards hoped that her offering would be a blessing (and she probably would have laughed, much like her namesake, if they had told her what a blessing her family would become in less than 200 years).  It's not just about today - it is about eternity.

As we consider the "bricks" of culture in our homes - we must consider what we teach and more importantly show about the value of family. They will have a vision of family that will dramatically influence the path of their life.  We must stir their imaginations about the impact they can have on their culture and future generations by being a faithful spouse and a loving parent.  We also need to challenge them to take a mothering, fathering or mentoring role in the lives of those who have missed out on this blessing. May they be blessed so that they can be a blessing to others.
Some stats - The marriage rate has been in steady decline in the United States since the 1970's and currently stands at about 31 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women (a hundred years ago it was closer to 90).  Honestly, what shocked me, was the precipitous drop in Europe where there are 3.6 marriages per year per 1000 marriageable in Italy and the EU average is a little over 4 marriages.  

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