I read a book last year by Mark Batterson called “Primal”. It was one of the most spiritually challenging books I’ve read. In it, he starts off by going into the catacombs in Rome. As he is looking at the graves of early Christians, he refers to them as our spiritual ancestors. I had never thought of the early church as ancestors or what they would think of the church today. They made sacrifices for the faith that many of us will never have to. They faced lions, ridicule, beheadings, torture and more.
I would call it bravery what they did, but I think it was more than that. It was the epitome of faith. Being sure of things hoped for. They believed with all of their heart in Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven and salvation. They did not count this life on earth as more valuable than the life which is to come. Their faith was certain even in the face of death.
I often wonder how I would react if I were ever in their situation. It’s easy to sit here in my air conditioned living room in a free nation to say I believe in my faith enough to die for it. It’s another thing to have those freedoms erased and having to live my faith in secret. I’ve lived in places and am friends with people who aren’t as fortunate as I am. They meet in secret to hold church. They are under constant threat of their lives for their faith.
I’ll never forget being with some of these friends one night. After our service, when we got back to the place we were staying, men formed a circle with me in the middle. They leaned over me as I squatted and walked from the car to the house. Their bodies were shields for me from snipers who would like to kill us for being Christians. It’s an humbling thing to have others risk their lives to save yours as if somehow your life was more valuable than theirs.
For generations ahead of us, our ancestors, spiritual and otherwise, have made sacrifices so that we could enjoy the heritage and freedoms that we have today. When I think of that, it challenges me to want to make sure I continue the heritage that was passed to me. I don’t want to be the one who the line ends with. I want to make sure that my children and the next generation receive it and carry it on. One day I will be someone’s ancestor and I want to make sure they can look back in gratitude on the part I played in handing it down.
What can you do to pass on the heritage you received? How will that shape the decisions you make today, how you raise your kids or how you share your testimony? Each of us are a part of a greater story. Our role is to live how God called us to live so that our faith is interweaved into the next generation. To put it how Paul put it in Ephesians 4:1, we should live a life that is worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. You have been called. What are you doing with it?