Study Guide: Family Lines

Sunday October 28, 2018 | David Morrow

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this sermon of our Blended series, David talks about what we may inherit from our biological ancestors, how these attributes may have shaped the lives of future generations, and how to love our families for who they are, just as God loves us.

Extended Summary:

David picks up the Blended series where we are as a community examine how to scripturally navigate our biological and spiritual family systems.

This series is specifically designed to give you the tools you need to have Jesus looking conversations in the upcoming holiday season because families can be so tough, but as Kingdom people we can love them well.  Our families of origin influence us, and sometimes that influence can feel like baggage.

David asks us one question: What have you inherited from your family of origin?

He shared a story about his wife and how early in their marriage they had different views of meal planning: She was spontaneous and he loved to plan. This would stress David out because he didn’t quite understand the method to Erica’s madness. But, the truth is, they got these methods from their parents. This is a light-hearted example of the things we take from our families into our future relationships. Some things we carry from our families can be insidious and detrimental to us, things like anger, addiction, mistrust, or even fear.

Pete Scazzero, the author of “Emotionally Healthy Discipleship” describes this phenomenon:

“You may have Jesus in your heart, but grandpa is in your bones.”

There have even been studies of holocaust survivors that show their DNA actually carries trauma from generation to generation. So, as Kingdom people it’s helpful for us to be critical of the things we inherited, have grace for those things that are unseemly, and hope that God is a God who redeems.

Deuteronomy  5:8-10 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

When we read this passage, we have to ask, “what else is going on here?” Because God doesn’t look like God for two reasons: When we think of God as jealous, we think that God is petty or insecure. But the word used for jealous here is the Hebrew word kanna that is only used to describe God,– there’s a different word that is used for people. This word kanna is actually translated as “zealous” or “impassioned”. This changes the connotation: God is not petty or insecure — he’s passionate, protective, and desires the very best. God is on your side because he sees you and loves you.

The second problematic part of the passage is the idea that God will punish children for their parent’s sins, which is the Hebrew word paqad: to visit or to respond.

What this verse is telling us is that God is so passionate about us and our families that when sin affects our families, God will not give up seeking our restoration. This text helps us see that what we do affects other people, and in some degree who we are today is affected by the choices of our ancestors.

David showed us in several ways how this plays out, but he camped out with a look at Joseph’s life. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who succumbed to jealously, dishonesty, violence, and greed because their father favorited him.

If we look at his family tree we see Jacob and Esau: two brothers at odds over dishonesty and greed.

Hagar, Zilpah, and Bilhah: Sarah’s, Leah’s, and Rachel’s handmaidens who were forced to have children with their masters.

We see favoritism in all the parents. The video is quite helpful in seeing how the baggage of sin has been passed down from family member to family member. Every sin and action from one relative to the next influences the whole family.

So, as we move into the holiday season we need to be aware of the things we’ve inherited from our family and then take them to God to heal. Being aware of this dynamic is also helpful in us offering grace to family members who behave in ways we just don’t understand. We can be zealous and passionate for their wholeness, just like God.

Reflection Questions: