Are you familiar with this conversation starter? Surely you are (though I hope most of you use your name in place of mine). Having participated in a get-to-know-you conversation like this, you probably know where it goes next—“What do you do?” “Where are you from?” “What do you like to do?” “Do you have a family?” All of these questions are trying in part to answer the deeper question—“Who are you?”
On rare occasions, the conversation might go to the realm of family history, genealogy, lineage: Hispanic, African, Indian, Australian, Asian, Russian, Middle Eastern, European, American. I’m Mississippian on my dad’s side. Yet we don’t delve too deeply into this history because most of us are really fuzzy on where our families come from. But truth be told, our heritage matters greatly for two reasons.
First, we are all descended from Adam and Eve, so we are all connected in this one human family. On account of this common lineage and image (of God, Genesis 1:27), everyone deserves honor and respect as human beings. Sadly, sin has led to many divisions of this family. Take a look around at our countries, cities, and churches, and if your eyes are open, you can see the dividing lines.
Second, and most important, Christians have a heritage that should trump all of our other groupings. There is a reason we sing, “Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham. And I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we actually have a Hebrew heritage. Romans 4:11 tells us that God made Abraham the father “of all who believe,” so that their faith might be credited to them as righteousness as well. God, in His grace, has grafted into this family those who were far off (Romans 11:17-24) in order that sin should be forgiven, dividing walls should be torn down, and peace should reign (Ephesians 2:11-22).
This family of faith goes even deeper because we don’t just have a Hebrew heritage but a godly one. Through faith in Jesus, He becomes our Brother, and His Heavenly Father becomes ours. We aren’t foreigners and strangers to Him and to one another anymore; in Christ we are “fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).
Can you grasp the far-reaching implications of this word from God? If we would “let the Word dwell” in us (Colossians 3:16)—the foundation of the apostles (New Testament) and the prophets (Old Testament), with Jesus as the cornerstone—we would find family members, brothers and sisters in Christ, all over the world and in every ethnic people group. We would find a common heritage with those who look nothing like us and those who live nowhere near us. We would love a people not our own because, in fact, they are through the shared love of God the Father in Jesus the Son through the Holy Spirit. We would even seek to bring more people into this one family from all the divided families of the world because we know our Father welcomes sinners no matter where they are from and what they have done.
So, my name is Daniel, and I’m a Christian. Who are you?