One of my favorite things about things about family reunions is hearing the history of our family. Even now, I will pull out a video of my grandfather telling stories about his youth and the history of our family. Some of the most memorable are the funny ones. Then there are the ones that are hard to believe and amazing. Some stories that are embarrassing, but they are essential to understanding the dynamics of our family.
We could say the same thing about our Christian heritage. Sadly, it seems that many people want to neglect anything that has happened between the end of the New Testament and their personal walk. Some may include the history of the local church or perhaps even the network or denomination of Churches that they might belong.
Some might believe that the Old Testament is not relevant to know since we have the New Testament. You might hear them say, “We are New Testament Christians around here.” Or, when they do go into the Old Testament, there is an awkward sense of unfamiliarity.
You may know several of the critical stories. The problem is many could not put these stories in order. Instead, they have a disorganized mess in their mind when it comes to our family history. Yes, the Old Testament and the New Testament, along with the almost two millennial between us is our Christian family heritage. All of it is our story.
Why is it essential to have a basic understanding of our history? For one, it helps us know our place in the family. We have a long family history that is rich in wisdom. Read the next few verses to get the sense that the Church is our family.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” -Ephesians 3:14-15
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” -Galatians 6:10
“Jesus has been counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Now Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,a testifying to what would be spoken later. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope of which we boast.” -Hebrew 3:3-6
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” -Galatians 3:29
“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” -Romans 4:16
The family is prominent but so is faithfulness to God’s Word. Knowing what Scripture teaches is vital to the Christian life. Essential to our personal walk and our local churches is an understanding of Church history. Many things in our extended family tradition teach us how to be faithful in uncertain times and the consequences of straying from Scripture.
Themes that run throughout history also helps us understand the nature of God. Ideas like redemption, holiness, faith, love, and justice run through Scripture and history as the threads of a tapestry. They weave together our point in time with others in the past and future.
By gaining a better sense of our Christian heritage, you will be humbled by its immensity and beauty. Use what you learn to be a better decision-maker in your Christian walk and local Church.