Those Boring Genealogies

boring book

An old man couldn’t wait to sit down with his granddaughter and watch a classic movie together.  The girl’s mother smiled as she watched her father pop the bulky cassette into the old VCR player, then sit down with an overflowing bowl of buttery homemade popcorn.  His granddaughter got drawn into foreign lands, captured by heart-pounding adventure, and wondering about the complexities of romance.  When the classic movie came to its profound conclusion, the girl wiped away tears of joy.  Just as she was about to get up and stretch, the grandfather put his arm out in a motion to stop.  The girl didn’t understand.  The movie was over.  Nothing showed on the screen except for the usual roll of credits, jumbled letters sinking into oblivion.  One name got the attention of the grandfather and knowing mother.  An old, wrinkly finger pointed it out, and all six eyes followed the name as it graced the screen.  Until now, the granddaughter had not known, that her grandfather once was a famous actor.  His name in the line of credits became the living proof that she was now directly related to a man of grandoise dreams, that same man who had poured his heart into the spell-binding adventures of a movie screen.  Looking deeply into the old man’s eyes, past the wrinkles, she could still see the dancing fire.

Have you ever heard the complaint that the Bible is boring, especially those meaningless genealogies?  A movie’s long list of credits might be the modern version of this boring list.  Another modern source of genealogies is a website like ancestry.com.  When you go on a site like this one, do you type in the last name of a complete stranger?  Don’t you instead go there and type in your own last name?  And when you track down the noble accomplishments and titles of your own ancestors, do these not become the hope of your own future dreams?  Now turn back to thousands of years ago, set wandering in the deserts of the Middle East.  Among the great empires, an underdog of a nation sprouts up.  Its heroes become captured on carefully preserved parchment, the stories recited day and night.  A mother reads her children one such tale, then refrains along the lines of a genealogy, pausing at a specific name.  With pursed smile she waits for her child to shout, “That’s grandfather!”  With straightened posture, she confirms, “That’s right.  And the same shining courage sparkles in your wide eyes, my child.”  Herein we find a gem of a moral.  No matter what millennium we inhabit, it’s not the genealogies themselves that bore us – the level of excitement hinges on whether we are or are not a part of that noble lineage.  The tracing of the names either establishes us or escapes from us.

If you find those Biblical genealogies boring, first ask yourself two soul-searching questions.  1. Are you adopted into this great heritage?  2. Have you taken the time to research the names and discover their inspiring stories?  The adoption process is a spiritual one, obtained by salvation through Christ.  There is another establishing of lineage written in the Bible, that being the confirmation of the Messiah, as introduced in the Gospels.

Child of the one true kingHebrews 11 gives a set of names, each with their own short bio.  The whole chapter is filled with the repeating phrase, “by faith.”   The following chapter encourages us as if we are a part of this great legacy.  Hebrews 12:1    “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  These witnesses are like the markings of DNA, reminding us who we are.  Those before us have firmly handed us a baton with which to carry toward a prized finish line.  As children of a Heavenly Father, we are no longer held captive by the sins of our earthly fathers.  We go to the database of the Bible and search not for our commonly-held surname, but for the name “By Faith.”  Mister Byfaith, Miss Byfaith, noble descendants of the historical Byfaith family.  One ginormous family with ginormous tales to tell.

Many of us have found a new way to mark our place in history, within the web-pages of social media.  You can even broadcast yourself on sites such as Youtube.  But consider the reality of your daily life.  Let’s pretend that itself is a screen, a screen viewed by your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, and even strangers.  Every choice you make in the open becomes another view in the view-counter.  Beneath the screen lies another button, the opportunity to “LIKE” your action or reaction to life’s demands.  So what story do you present in the grand drama of real-life?  The bad news is that you can’t edit out the bad parts.  The good news is that you can humbly ask forgiveness and do better.  Seriously, would viewers really LIKE what they see?  As a Christian, do you season your words and actions with desirable salt?  Do you walk with uncompromised quietness and confidence?  Or is it with hypocrisy?  Or with a holier-than-thou trot?  Do you tell the truth in genuine love?  Do you present the Gospel as enjoyable?  You don’t have to do jumping jacks and play the kazoo.  Just stay faithful in a meaningful Christian walk.  Even if viewers go for the other screens, the ones with more noise, when they come up empty-handed, they’ll be looking for something real.  Will you still be there?

There’s an aspiration greater than the hope of getting someone to find your name gracing a screen.  When I see a blockbuster hit composed with stunning orchestration, I don’t want to know the actors as much as I want to know who the director is.  Acts 4:13 demonstrates how our God-given attributes become overshadowed by the name of Jesus.   “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  There’s a point at which we realize, God knows when we are ready, to relinquish the credit to whom credit is due.  The miraculous over-performance is readily explained by His name, and thereby all men are drawn to Him.  Not to worry, though.  Just as any noble parent would, God the Father proudly exhibits all His children to show what they have done with their gifts.  So stop being bored!  Read Hebrews 11 as a partaker rather than a spectator.  Be encouraged and inspired, brother/sister.  Look up the path, reaching behind only to grab the baton of the Byfaith heritage.

Did you know that the creative force behind Apolojetics is the same author of the inspirational fantasy A Hummen in Spiral Gorge?  You can support T. William Watts AND read more great stuff!  Thank you so much for your prayer and other support.

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