In America, the individual takes precedence in almost every aspect of our lives. It dominates how we spend our time and money, with whom we associate and why, who we marry, what church we attend, how we vote, etcetera, etcetera. The link to a fallen human nature and its selfishness becomes undeniable here, but I believe another element also comes into play.

Typically, Westerners think in terms of individuality while Easterners think in terms of the community. Westerners focus on the future while Easterners remember their history. Do not mistake me here. I am not a west-bashing, new age, eastern wanna-be, but I do think a valuable lesson can be learned from Eastern culture. They have a much more solid link to the past, and their heritage helps to define their identity. Granted, it is not always used well (think Indian caste system), but sometimes it flourishes.

Imagine a young boy sitting on his father’s lap, his brown eyes staring joyfully up into his face. Imagine this boy beginning to glow as his father tells the story of his ancestors. He hears about the passion and commitment of his ancient grandfather who left his home and family on a promise from God, was greatly blessed, and became known as the father of his faith. He daydreams about one day being a noble king like another in his family line who became the greatest king in the history of his country. A man devoted to God and credited with writing many Psalms found in the Scriptures. Imagine this boy named Yeshua (Jesus), who now knows the origin of the blood running through His veins. Does he wonder if he will rise to a similar level as others in his line?1 Would it change your perspective to know what your family has accomplished?

”A Friend” asked if “we should, as Christians, seek to be remembered?” And my answer to that question is absolutely not. The moment we begin to seek remembrance our motivations have become sinful instead of honoring to God. Therefore, we should not seek to be remembered, but a fear of being remembered should not stop us from attempting to produce valuable works and have positive impacts. Be they books, paintings, symphonies, relationships, or ideas it does not matter, but only that we strive to do it to the best of our ability for the Glory of God Most High. If remembrance comes as a side effect—so be it. But, what if our entire culture was changed to remember the heritage from which we come? What if it was not only the Luthers, Calvins, Augustines, or Davids that we remember, but also the contributions of our grandfathers, aunts, uncles, or parents?

The family should foster an environment where the kids can grow and learn from their parents, grandparents, or possibly even great grandparents about their heritage, about the community they are apart of and how they may contribute. Give the kids a chance to understand what they are capable of by showing them what their ancestors have done. My last post may have ended on a note of grandeur because I suffer from delusions of it, but what if the events, actions, and lives worth remembering are also those in our own bloodlines who have given their lives to a cause greater than themselves? Can we take a page from Eastern culture and strive to remember both our heritage and our history so that others may be nourished by the fruit of our lives?

  1. Jesus is God. Jesus is Human. (Is not was, because he still lives.) Neither you nor I know the intricacies of what he knew or didn’t know as a human being. I therefore take a creative liberty in writing him as a Messiah who didn’t know every single thing that would happen in his lifetime. Part of being human means that we learn, and I believe Jesus learned many things from the father as he grew. The fact that he was the Messiah was one of these things.
Posted in Cultural Critiques, History, Modern America | 1 Comment

Responses to Remembering our Heritage

  1. A Friend says:

    Your response to my comment seems to have effectively silenced my fears. Your previous post seemed to me to be playing on our nature to seek our own greatness and our own influence, in order to encourage us to create great works.

    You are right to suggest that we should learn from our ancestors. It is right to seek to do great things for our families of the future, so long as we keep God as the primary motive.

    Thank you for the quick response. I look forward to reading this blog.