I wonder do we ever stop to think why there’s so much division in the world over differences none of us have had any control over. Nations look down on nations when none of us had any say where we were born. Protestant is set against Catholic when we had no say into what family we were born. The poor are separated from the rich when we had no say into what economic circumstances we were born. In so many ways we are the product of our parents. So many things cannot be changed or are difficult to change, all because of the situation or location into which we were born. (It makes all the division more than a little pointless)
Yet Ezekiel is telling us when it comes to God our heritage; family lineage; parents’ choices do not define who we are. (Read Ezekiel 18: 19-25)
Our relationship with God is entirely personal. (Personal in the sense that it is our relationship; not personal in the sense that it should not be shared with others.) We should remember that Ezekiel was speaking to a people who had already been taken into captivity in Babylon because of their rebellion against God and the remainder of the people were about to be taken into captivity and their precious city and temple destroyed. He was speaking to a people whose relationship with God certainly looked as though it lay in tatters.
Ezekiel, therefore, was saying to a new generation you are not bound or defined by your father’s actions. God will not abandon you because of what your father did. This is good news for anyone who might be reading this who does not have a family history that has taught a love for God – or has a family history of crime; unfaithfulness; or wickedness. Equally for a godly parent who faces the heartache of a child who departs from the faith, this does not bring into question your relationship with God.
The child will not share the guilt of the parent nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.Ezekiel 18:26
The gospel of Jesus Christ is about cleansing from individual sin. It is the message that Christ’s death is for me and that I receive his grace through my faith, not the faith of my parents or my children. This is good news because the gospel then becomes something that can set us free from our family history. Like the children of the exiles in Babylon we do not have to become like our parents.
The gospel goes further because not only does it free us from historical family sin, but our own historical sin. The cross of Jesus Christ sets me free from my past. Whatever shameful thing we hide from others, whatever shameful thing we believe has shattered our relationship with God. The cross atones for and restores that relationship.
Rather am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?Ezekiel 18:23
Jesus sets us free from everything the world tells us we should be. It doesn’t matter if that is because of the place we were born; the family we were born into; or what we may have become through our life choices. In Christ we are set free.
Prayer Father I thank you for the cross of Jesus Christ. I thank you that he sets me free from the labels people use about me because of where I come from, how my family has lived and the choices I have made in life. Father forgive me for who I am. This morning Lord I echo the words of Ezekiel 18:31, ‘Rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit…’ Father create in me that new heart and renew that right spirit in me (Psalm 51:10). Amen.
Other reflections from Moneydig Presbyterian Church