Are you disappointed or disenchanted
with your forefathers?
I was privileged to grow up in a family where one Book was the center of our attention. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. Involvement with the local church was a constant. Prayer and good influence was our environment. Outside the home I was surrounded by good role models. I am so thankful today for all those early advantages.
But I also became acquainted with imperfection and witnessed people develop their spiritual journey in such a way as to move beyond those imperfections. If there was any effort to shield me from sinners and apostates, it didn’t work. I knew people who were flawed. In the neighborhood, at my dad’s workplace, among the parents of my friends and yes, in the church, there were spiritually and morally defective people.
Hypocrites – when their true colors are made known – always disappoint us. And while we often pay tribute to our forefathers, we know they were not perfect just as we are not perfect. And some of them were just corrupt. Every generation must wrestle with this reality.
I must not let that reality become a juvenile excuse for any cynicism on my part today. And I must guard against blaming the previous generation (however many or few) for my current waywardness. We are warned of that in Ezekiel chapter 18. I have framed these questions that might help.
1) Have you changed during your lifetime? Are there ideas or attitudes you had earlier in your life as a Christian that you have since rejected? You may be like some of your forefathers in that regard?
2) What will your descendants say of you? When your great-grandchildren speak of you, will they remember any flaws you had? How do you want them to react to flaws they see in you today?
3) Were all your forefathers “rotten to the core?” Come on. Some were but not all. When we get into that mode of being tempted to justify ourselves because of our perception of a “tainted” past experience with hypocrites, we sometimes paint with a broad brush. Admit they were not all bad.
4) Shouldn’t we learn from our past, even if there were some bad people? The Bible is loaded with good and bad examples. Both have a purpose to train and warn us today.
5) What would your forefathers – even the messed up ones – want you to do today?
6) And THE QUESTION IS — What does God want you to do now? Does He want you to sit around in disobedience expressing your cynical memory of all the bad people in your past, in your family or church? Will this justification hold up when you stand before Him?
God will deal with each person on the merits of his own actions. And the only way that reckoning can have a good outcome is, if your actions are based on obedient faith in Jesus Christ. We can stand before God alongside our flawed forefathers if they and we have been obedient to Jesus Christ, walking in the light as He is in the light. Our forefathers hold no power to redeem us or condemn us. Neither can we redeem ourselves. Remember, “It is God who justifies,” (Rom. 8:33). And, “…we will all stand before the judgment seat of God,” (Rom. 14:10).