Your Spiritual Ancestry: Looking Back and Moving Forward

by Philip Maniscola July 13, 2016

 

Have you ever wondered about your spiritual ancestry? By that I mean the chain of people that led you to Christ. Let me explain. If you are a Christian believer, then someone must have shared the Gospel with you. Let’s say it’s a friend. Then someone else must have introduced your friend to Christ. Then someone else did the same to whoever introduced your friend to Christ, so on and so forth. The chain continues to form what I like to call our spiritual ancestry. Can you think of yours?

While you may not know your entire lineage, all spiritual ancestries are common in that someone, somewhere along the line left the comforts of home to depart to uncharted lands to share the great news of salvation found in Christ. So somewhere along your ancestry line is someone whom we refer to today as a missionary. Don’t believe me? Trace your ancestry deep enough, and you’ll eventually get to the person of Jesus himself. He was the first missionary, the first person in all Christian ancestries. He left his home to share the good news that through him those who believe can know the Father and enjoy eternity with him. He began his lineage by emptying himself so that the will of the Father, that “those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand” (Isaiah 52:15), could be fulfilled through him. 

Jesus shared the light with the apostles, who in turn followed his example by leaving their homes to reach faraway lands so that others, too, may have life everlasting. Like him, they emptied themselves and were filled with the Spirit. They gave up their own will, and replaced it with the will of the Father who made them “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8). Through the apostles, God brought thousands to himself. These thousands in turn emptied themselves and through them God brought millions to himself. And of course, if you are part of his Kingdom, it is because the chain continues and reaches you. 

When I realize how little I think about the lost in unreached parts of the globe, I shudder with conviction. In my spiritual ancestry are two missionaries who left their homes some two centuries ago for an obscure land where my forefathers lived. So great is God’s love for me that he willingly sacrificed lives of those whom he loved, even that of his own precious Son. Yet how can I, after receiving such an expensive gift, live with so little care for the lost?

Though God may not call all of us to be missionaries, he does call us to empty ourselves and let him change our hearts and use us however he sees fit. He does call us to follow the examples that our spiritual ancestors have set before us. At times this call will seem too great,  because we do not believe that we gain our lives by losing them. If only we can see the fullness of joy and peace that comes from emptying ourselves and letting God himself fill us! We’d give up, in an instant, our lives and the whole world, too, if it were ours. As we follow God’s call to humble ourselves through prayer and listening and submitting to his word, he will begin changing our hearts to be more like Christ’s. Just like our spiritual ancestors, we too will have a deepening desire to share the goodness of Jesus with the lost. And inevitably, the Spirit will call all of us, his church, to take part in his work of making disciples of all nations.

For some, the call will be to go and proclaim Christ to those nations. For others, it will be to support those who go. This is evident in Paul’s letters, whereby he, a missionary, thanked the churches for their fellowship in the furtherance of the gospel. We also see this in how Jesus himself used a group of women to financially support his ministry. God uses broken vessels to show his power. What an honor it is to be called to take part in his work!

You’ll see a Global Ties brochure in your bulletin today. It lists the many ways you can be a part of God’s work of making disciples. You can also sign up now for the Perspectives class starting September 12 and get threaded into the story of God’s heart for the nations. Information on signing up for the class is on Tenth’s website (see Tenth Spotlights on the home page).

Will you answer his call?

 

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Philip Maniscola. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org