By Stewart Holloway
What is your spiritual heritage?
In the Old Testament, we encounter a number of lists of names. Genealogies as well as lists of people going, coming, or making some commitment dot the landscape of the Old Testament story. These lists of difficult to pronounce names are usually met with a quiet grown and a sigh followed by a quick scan to the end and a page turn. The only benefit of the lists seems to be that we get through with our Bible reading plan a little faster that day!…
But there are benefits to these lists. Some genealogies are used to fast-forward through time while showing the connections between generations. Others are used to show God’s faithfulness through time or one person’s connection to earlier people. Some lists show people committing to spiritual renewal or doing something historically significant yet difficult (like journeying back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city after the Exile).
While you do not have to stumble through every name, you should at least sit back for a moment and ask, “Why did God choose to have these people’s names recorded for all time?” Eugene Peterson writes, “Holy history is not constructed from impersonal forces or abstract ideas; it is woven from names – persons, each one unique.” The people whose names are recorded in scripture were significant. Some lived as scoundrels while others lived as saints, but all were used in the story of God recorded in the Bible. Each one is part of my and your spiritual heritage.
Let’s take a moment to update the lists, though. No, we’re not adding to scripture; we’re simply connecting the dots. If you charted out the people who passed the faith to you, who would be listed in your spiritual up-line? Your parents? A pastor? A friend? It could be multiple people. As you think of these people, pause and thank God for them. They are your spiritual heritage! Their names may mean nothing to anyone else, but they mean everything to you!
Now, one more question: who is in your spiritual down-line. Who would list you as part of their spiritual heritage? Think about the people whom you have spiritually influenced. Thank God for the opportunity and ask Him to guide those people to growth in the faith. Then, ask Him to put more people in your path whom you can influence.
Today, celebrate your spiritual heritage and build someone else’s!
Stewart Holloway is pastor of First Baptist Church in Pineville. This editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.