What if you were related to a King from a faraway country or maybe your family happened to be related to someone even more awesome like Lebron James who is the current King of basketball? Ancestry and relations that hold great, famous, and wonderful people is a fun topic to think on. Movies are made about this (Luke I am your Father). The Bible hosts several geologies that link together famous people. The original patriarch’s descendant from Adam to Noah. The Jewish nation from Abraham to King David. And the genealogy of King David to Jesus as a baby born in Bethlehem. Who we are is very much wrapped up in who our families are and where they came from. It is no surprise then that how the world perceives and treats people can be directly related to ancestry. One of my favorite shows on television is called “Finding your Roots”. I enjoy the detailed research and the way the host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., unveils knowledge of the past to his guests. Sometimes the events and history he shows to the guest is amazing and emotionally powerful. There is good and bad in those family trees. Sometimes ancestry can be used in evil ways. Racial and ethnic pride is might be the ugliest use of the genealogy of ancestors. Hate or approval might be bestowed just from the color of someone’s skin. The reality is that people like to categorize themselves into nations and tribes. People prefer to be around others like themselves.
It would be interesting for me to know more about my genealogy. Mostly however the background of my family is unknown to me and I have not pursued knowing the truth because I wonder if my fascination with knowing is rooted in a vanity about the past that has no use in the future.
While genealogy is a hobby for some it could mean being part of the power structure to some societies. Who your parents are could carry serious privileges and unlock doors to wealth and success. Genealogy and proving historic links to be part of the power structure was something that Paul warned Christians against. He did not want them to be caught up in things that are not factual or relevant to God’s kingdom.
4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 1 Timothy 1:4 ESV
Devotion to endless genealogies describes a worldly focus of pride in things are not constructive to the present. Genealogies and learning ancestry are not bad in and of themselves because even Jesus needed to establish a pedigree in the line of King David to be the messiah. It is good to know and relevant in proving citizenship and understanding of where one has come but at the end of the day it should not be all consuming and it should not be divisive. Paul warns his other apprentice in similar fashion.
9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:9 ESV
Where one comes from can be a distraction in regard to where they are going. Are you white and do not like to associate with people of color? Then you are allowing your past to cause quarrels and dissensions that are unprofitable and worthless. You are also just flat out sinning against your brother in Christ. Are you a person of color and harbor ill will toward the callous, privileged, uncaring white guy living an oblivious life in his suburb? Well you may be perpetuating speculations and controversy due to genealogies by pre judging based on ancestry. Note: Life is hard for the prince, the pauper, and all of us in-between. Everyone and I mean everyone has hidden sins and demons to face. Paul has harsh words for us Christians in this current age.
3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 ESV
Look at the world and see that it is normal for people to segregate and commune with those who are like themselves in a worldly way. Jealousy of others who appear to have more is powerful when living in the flesh. If I fellowship with a Christian from anywhere in the world it should be that our unity in Christ stands taller than nationality, skin color, political affiliation, or family background. If not, then Paul is telling us that our dissension is worthless and unprofitable because it is of the flesh and we are behaving in a human way.
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1 ESV
William Barclay puts what Paul is saying this way. “Paul is talking about the difference between the person who is spiritual, and who therefore can understand spiritual truths, and the person who is [not spiritual] who interests and aims do not go beyond physical life”. If we are stuck on national pride, where someone is from, or the color of their skin (or if you have ill feelings toward the people who are in the first category) then we are not ready for the spiritual life. The obsession and focus does “not go beyond physical life”. We are much too obsessed with this earth, this life, and a desire for this world to be fair and accepting. Note: This world is not going to accept a follower of Christ any more than it accepted Christ when he was here. Stuck in infancy in the relationship with Christ we struggle with the worthless genealogies that mean nothing in God’s spiritual kingdom. The fact is all men are related no matter the nation or color. We all go back to one set of parents in Adam and Eve both physically and spiritually. They held the genetic make-up of every person living on earth today and they held the image of God that is also in the make-up of every person living on earth today. We all are just a shadow of their perfection in the hands of God our Creator. We are all brothers and sisters. Don’t let a genealogy separate the body of Christ that should be united under his Lordship.