20/06/2018: Breaking the Power of the Past | Richard Ashton
In our last teaching, we learned that when it comes to our personal lives, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Like an iceberg, there are huge chunks of who we are that remains hidden beneath the surface.
In this week’s study we’re going to see how the past is related to the present, and how the families in which we grew up has a lot to do with how we are put together at the bottom of our icebergs. The bible teaches that both blessings and curses can be passed on in families from generation to generation.
“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20: 5–6).
Fortunately, the positive legacies of our family last a thousand generations! Yet God says clearly that the sins of those who go before us are passed on to our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, and even our great-great-grandchildren.
Do you remember being annoyed or hurt by something you parents did, then vowing to yourself, “I will never be like this when I grow up”? Yet in our adult life we find ourselves struggling with the same character defects and unhealthy relational patterns. Maybe you can think of a personal example.
Tracing the Family Tree of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is another powerful example of generational blessings and sinful patterns being passed on.
The blessings are so significant that they reach us even until today – we however need to note the sins and emotional immaturity that are passed on from generation to generation.
Definition of Genogram:
A diagram outlining the history of the behaviour patterns (as of deception, alcoholism, or addictions) of a family over several generations; also could be similar diagram detailing the medical history of a family in order to assess a family member’s risk of developing disease.
In each generation of Abraham’s line we can identify at least 3 common patterns.
- Pattern of deception
- The Favourite child or scapegoat
- Sibling rivalry
“Ten Commandments” of Our Family Origin
Growing up, each of our families operated under a set of “commandments’. Some of them were spoken and spelled out; others were unspoken and ‘understood”.
|“Ten Commandments of My Family of Origin
|4. Gender Rules:|
|8. Play & Recreation|
|9. Expressing Anger|
|10. Loss & Grief|
Question: what ways do you at times, observe the same dynamics played out in your life and family today?
“The Church as the New First Family”
Our family of origin is the single most powerful and formative influence that has shaped the person that we are today. Therefore it makes sense that Christian Discipleship is ultimately about transplanting someone from their family of origin and rooting them into the New Family of Christ. Just as there were established ways of handling anger, money, conflict, sex, feelings, and the like, in our family of origin, so there are new ways of thinking and acting about these things in the family of God. Discipleship is a process of unlearning and relearning, because through Christ, we’ve been birthed into a new Family Tree.
- What are one or two things that you believe God wants you to relearn in His family?
- The church is a place where people bring their entire family histories with them through the door. What sort of challenges does this present to functioning as a church family after Gods own heart?
- Refer back to the Ten Commandments of Our Family of Origin section (question 4). Take a few minutes to rewrite one or two of the family of origin commandments based on your understanding of what God teaches in scripture.
- Success: “In Gods family, success means faithfulness to be and do what God has called me to be and do.”