Friday, August 19, 2005

A story of generational sin

There once was a man. A boy, actually, who was forced into manhood by the brutality in his home and the deception of his family.

This man, who knew no love, fell in love with a woman. A girl, actually, thrust into womanhood by unspeakable acts committed in her home and the silence of her family.

As teenagers, this man who knew no love and this woman who could not love, found comfort in each other, miserable but at least not alone. Married out of convenience and in fear of facing the world in solitude, they began a journey they thought would be physical, but instead became spiritual.

The loveless couple, devoted to fear because they knew no other way, sought answers. They stumbled into every corner of darkness until the Gospel transformed the man. The man took this light to the woman, and they became a family under God's blessing.

The family was blessed for a decade, the loveless couple finally experiencing love, feeling as though they had escaped the wages of their sin. But, alas, they did not escape the sin of their family, for unspeakable acts had been committed against their daughter by a family member outside their immediate circle who was working in the spirit of his father's father.

A seed of bitterness was planted in each of them, though the father pushed on in the faith of his mind, if not his heart, proud of the honor bestowed upon him because God had given him great wisdom and understanding. The mother began hiding, realizing the pain of her childhood had touched her daughter, and she was in quiet agony. The daughter became numb and could not hear the Gospel.

The previous decade of hope had given way to a decade of secrecy, of complicity, of unspeakable sin beyond the purview of accountability. They played church and family well, but they lived outside the hope of the Gospel, their hearts now hardened and untouched by the magnificent love they once craved. The daughter, now hopeless, sought the world's approval but it struck her so ill she faced pain and death. The mother and father saw this and walked away from the Truth. Life was no different than before, they thought. Where is God?

God heard the prayers of the church, those who loved the daughter, and she left her deathbed on her feet. But she remained wounded, not wholly restored, and her father hated God for this. The mother continued burying her head, now consumed by bitterness, hating God for the life he had given her. Her bitterness was vast, because she had never forgiven her family for their unspeakable acts and their silence.

The daughter, however, began a change. Facing death and recognizing God's power, her heart could now be touched by God. Her love for God grew until she could recognize God and the Word, the truth of salvation in Christ, was more than lipservice. She began the path of storing her treasures in heaven as God broke the curse on her generation. The eyes of her heart were opened to the pain of her parents and the pain of the world. She began to understand she did not suffer alone, and the curse of sin was powerless under the light of God's plan of salvation.

Forgiveness, not bitterness, became her pursuit, and God heaped blessings on her for this.

The hard-hearted father, whose knowledge of scripture had been hailed as a gift, began retreating. He watched as his wife withdrew, and this was another burden, for she was no longer affirming him. Fear once again ruled their lives, and they started searching for a wisdom defined by their own selfishness, for other experiences of this world. Sin consumed them and they left God. Fully defiant, holding little sacred, they began seeking the experiences of this world for their own. The mother, feeling owed something for her difficult and complicated life, chased the wordly dreams of her youth. The father, craving the continued approval of the mother and fearing such a loss, chased after her.

The daughter, knowing God's truth, felt betrayed, but she clung to hope and she prayed for God to redeem her parents. She prayed God would put obstacles in their way, and the Spirit would pierce the darkness of their hearts and convict them. She did this with not only the love of a daughter, but the love God gave her for the lost. She did this with the understanding of the Word her father once understood, and her father once past on to her with God's generational blessing.

And God answered.

The man, stripped of his pride, left to face his own shame, was forced to confront people in need without the work of the Spirit in him. He was constantly reminded of his own weakness, and his inability to counsel without God's work in him. Then God sent his servant, someone low on the scale of importance to the world, to speak for Him to the man. Without any pretense and with the language of a commoner, this servant spoke with the blunt force of the power of the Spirit, and the man was convicted in his heart.

He was overwhelmed with grief upon the understanding he now faced a choice: choose his wife or God. Just as his daughter had to choose between the approval of her earthly father or the approval of her heavenly father. Just as the wife had to choose between the empty love of the world or the sacrifice of her right to justice in exchange for transforming love that comes from heaven. He realized he could no longer justify his sin based on the crimes of his father, and he must lay that pain down at the altar just as his daughter did.

Christ does not just make us a new creation, he breaks off that sinful lineage of our earthly families and weaves us into the family of the Vine that provides everlasting life.

Today, this choice is being pondered all over the world. The crimes of our fathers, our fathers' fathers, they weigh upon us with all the accountability of our own sin, their choices directly affecting us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We will not answer for the crimes of our fathers on the day of judgment, but God will ask us how we responded, because whether or not our fathers led their household in Truth or in darkness, we are all equally accountable for own actions. There is no escaping the single path to eternal life, which goes through Jesus alone.

Whom do we cling to for our faith? Is it built on the blessings within our church buildings? Is it built on the traditions of our families? Do we worship our knowledge? Do we worship institutions?

We must be prepared to lay all of these at the altar, just as God tested Abraham at the altar with Isaac, and just as God sent His own Son to the cross, so God can break in our lives the generational curse passed down to us from Adam.

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