catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 12 :: 2011.06.24 — 2011.07.07


Back to school

A generation reversal

Researching your genealogy can be a tricky thing these days, not because it is all that difficult, but because of the surprises you might find.  Your great grandfather a few generations back might be either a horse thief or a king. My daughter recently discovered that my father, through his mother, can trace his lineage back to his thirty-ninth great-grandfather, Charlemagne, whose son was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Louis I of (The Pious) of Aquitaine (778-840). My husband, through his mother can trace his lineage back to King Clovis I “The Great” of All Franks, Merovingian (467-511). When Clovis finally converted, he became for the historian Gregory a “new Constantine,” the emperor who Christianized the Roman Empire in the early 4th century.

Fascinating stuff, all that, but what has been more significant to me of late is my Christian genealogy.  As a believer, my faith can be traced back to those first generation believers about whom Luke writes in the book of Acts. He says that they devoted themselves to learning and to fellowship and to prayer and that they had all things in common, with those who had much selling what they had so they could share with those in need…rather like one big family (2:42-47). Later, Paul tells the believers that they should work so the have something to share with the poor (Ephesians 4:28).

What a novel idea: sell what we have so there is no poverty. As I was thinking about my physical genealogy, it occurred to me to think about how much I look like or live like a descendent of royalty. Then, and more powerfully, it occurred to me to consider how much or how little I resemble my spiritual forebears.

From the time I was a new believer, I was taught the principle of tithing, and periodically, especially around communion time, I was challenged to give above my tithe, being reminded that all that I had belonged to God. However, I think we as a Church have missed the boat. My generation of believers has somehow come to believe that sharing “all” that we have would be radical…and not in a good way.  After all, we have to save our money to prepare for retirement, for a rainy day, for a nice vacation, for… But I just don’t see that as a concern of those first generation believers — and they didn’t even have Social Security.

By the calendar, I am of the “Boomer” generation, and we were challenged to “ask not what our country could do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And by the hundreds, we trooped off all around the country and the world to serve the poor and the lost. Then we grew up and got jobs and turned inward, both within and without the church.

Today, my generation looks into the yaw of retirement with fear; will we have enough money to survive? It’s almost as if we have completely forgotten what that first generation of believers practiced and obviously survived by doing: let it go.  Let it all go! Give it to God! Love your brothers and sisters. I mean really love them, the kind of love that makes it easy to let go of your stuff because you don’t want to see others suffer.

I know my generation is supposed to be teaching the younger generations, but right now, I think we need to go back to school at the feet of those first generation believers.

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