Ed Welch delivered a message about how our family history speaks to our present and shapes how we view God today. Ed encouraged us to do some self-reflection. Our histories impact us naturally, perhaps without us even knowing it. Our past family life can be seen as a house with a shepherd. What was the nature of your formative house? Did you have a good shepherd or bad shepherd?
Ed challenged us to think of a representative story that captures a vignette of our family history. For him, it was hearing his parents talk as a child and feeling the safety of his own house. Another vignette was recalling what his 1st grade teacher wrote on his report card, “Master Welch can do no wrong.” What is an iconic story or event for you? Think of a story that captures something of yourself and your home that you were raised in.
Consider the traditions and culture in which you were raised? Did your family share meals together or was that foreign to you? How did your story inform who you are? How did it shape your identity and self-definition? How do the shepherds you have had shape your life now? Did you feel wanted? Loved? Enjoyed? Did you feel secure? What did it communicate about who God is?
The faces of human beings can reflect something about God. How has your past shaped your view of the nearness of God? Do you view God as distant or close? Was your house a house that seemed to be constantly torn down? Or was it an attractive house on the outside, but that was only a facade? How do you carry your story with you?
In the Count of Monte Cristo, the main character lives in a palace but his servant comes into the room finding him on the floor instead of his bed. He was still living as a pauper. As Christians, we often live as orphans but we should aim to leave nothing that is significant untouched by our new shepherd. Our new representative story becomes : “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
“We move to a new family with a new shepherd. It tells a story that is louder, that dominates.” In this new story, Christ is for you. He is the substitute for you. He desired to be the sacrificial lamb for us. We lean into the one who kept the law as our perfect representative when we never could.
In this new story, Christ is for us. We are in Christ. Sin persists but with a diminished power. We have been called to be in a world of trouble rather than taken out of the world of trouble. Yet we have his presence. He never leaves or forsakes us. Jesus Christ is the suffering servant and we follow in that road.
What is the culture in this new kingdom? When we go to the dinner table, we find that Jesus specializes in those who are on the outs. “Jesus was committed to gather those on the outskirts. If you are on the outs, it means you are among the people of God.”
What is the culture like? It is a culture where you recognize that God’s inclination is to be closer and closer. God is close, not far. If people stray, he will pursue them. He is a good shepherd! We will be brought into his house and table to experience his divine hospitality.
“It is important to remember that in this new house not all things go well. We are on a royal road that moves through a wilderness. We move through the wilderness with confidence because God is with us.” It means that there are many things I don’t understand that my father does. I don’t need to understand these things. I know enough about my father and I trust him.
Until heaven and earth fully meet in Christ, we contribute to this new house. The Lord grants to us this strange privilege of partnering with him when he is the one who ultimately does all the work. Faith is seeing increasingly clearly through our story and seeing the bigger story. By faith, the heroes of the faith saw the difficulties of life but they saw beyond it and saw the new house and the new shepherd ().
May we be ever mindful of our new house and new shepherd and have that as our vantage point for the rest of our lives.
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (ESV)
10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. (ESV)
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (ESV)
11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (ESV)