Having an identity is important. When there is no history there is no identity. When there is no identity there is a tendency towards “redefining” an identity.
Deuteronomy – Moses reviews the history of the Children of Israel. He is calling them to remember who they are, and who God.
Joshua 24 – Remember your history. Renew your vows and serve the Lord! Joshua handed leadership over to the the people and the tribes. From that point on there was a slow loss of memory about things God had done for them.
Several things that the Children of Israel failed to do to pass their identity on to the next generation.
- They failed to fight their battles to a conclusion. They were content to live among an undefeated enemy.
- They failed to connect their children to their grandparents.
- They failed to instill an identity in their children. Who they were and what they stood for.
- They failed to pass on the vision, the purpose that they had when they came into the lan of Canaan.
Numbers 10:29, Judges 1:16, Jeremiah 35 – The Rechabites refused to drink wine. It was something that their fathers had passed on to them. Put yourself in their shoes. They shared a lot of history with the Israelites, yet they had a unique identity among themselves.
Of all the parts of our lives that we can grapple with, what we can’t change is our history. We can do several things with it though, we can ignore it, or we can rewrite and redefine it. History gives us events, choices and results.
Scripture gives us two ways to look at what came before.
- 2 Chronicles 30, 2 Corinthians 10 – Don’t be like your brothers. We are not called to judge others who were a part of our history. However we can look at their environment, the choices they made and then the outcome. The best we can do is look at the results of those choices and learn from them.
- Jeremiah 6:16 – Seemingly a contradiction to the previous point. It is good for us to wrestle with the things that are passed to us. However, scrapping it all and “starting from zero” is an arrogant position.
We don’t have to look far to see examples of people who left a good legacy that we can learn from.
Nations, family, children, Christians, churches – each has an identity.
1 Peter 2:9 – Our identity is with Christ and with God’s people. Jesus is our redemption, our sanctification and our greatest treasure. God’s people are unique, there are no two ways about it.
We are called to this identity with Christ, but it is also true that there is a practical outworking of this identity. What decisions do we make? How do we apply these things?
If we could leave an example to the next generation that they could follow and not just react to, even if they wouldn’t agree with all of our choices, would they at least agree with the way that these choices were made and the context of our values?