There’s a great show on NBC where famous people discover their heritage. It’s called Who Do You Think You Are? It’s a documentary style show where the celebrity for each episode follows a trail given by historical documents that leads them all over the world. Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Ashley Judd and Jerome Bettis are just a few of the recognizable names of people who trek across the globe in pursuit of revealing the significance of their family line.
Every week is a fascinating lesson in history, and sometimes we get a new perspective on the way things really were. The show is a great advertisement for ancestry.com because it gives people a thirst to discover their own significance. As the saying goes, everybody has a story. Or, in this case, everybody is part of a story.
We just finished a series on the book of Ruth over the past four weeks at Living Hope Community Church in Conneautville (and Springboro), PA. Ruth was a foreigner and a widow who seemed to have no prospect for a meaningful life in ancient Bethlehem. Her faithfulness to her mother-in-law put her in that situation. But even though the bottom seemed to drop out in her life, God had an amazing plan.The story is the second greatest reckoning of redemption outside of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Actually, this Old Testament book is a great explanation of what the Messiah would bring in the New Testament.
One of the best parts is the lineage at the end of the small book of Ruth – you know, the section that most of us skip over. Through her loyalty to Naomi, God set in motion a series of events that resulted in redemption for herself and Naomi through her marriage to Boaz. But, not only would both of these women’s need be provided for the remainder of their lives, the lineage shows that Ruth would eventually become the great-grandmother of king David. If she’s the great-grandmother of king David, guess who is also a descendant of Ruth? . . . Jesus Christ!
The story of redemption is awesome, but I’ve learned a different perspective on the significance of lineage. Family history is important because it provides a sense of earthly identity. It shows that you are part of a larger story, especially as a participant in God’s story of the redemption of the world. However, as a Christian, instead of looking backwards for our most significant heritage, we do the opposite; we look forward.
I wonder if Ruth had any idea that she would not only be adopted into the people of Israel, but into the family of God himself. It’s the same for you. The lineage that goes forward is much more significant that the one that came before. Ruth had no idea that the Messiah would be in her lineage, but you do. So, who do you think you are? Though your situation in life may make it seem like you’re insignificant, just remember that you’re a child of the King!
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13, NIV)