My brother has taken up my mother's passion for tracing our family tree. Momma successfully traced hers back to pre-Mayflower days. It helps to have an entire society formed to help keep track of the ancestors of one of the pilgrims. Pilgrim Doty came over as an indentured servant. This was not unusual as few could afford the passage to come to the New World. By agreeing to work for a rich land owner for a period of time, he paid your fare to cross the great ocean divide between worlds. Once your period of service was over you were on your own and able to seek fame and fortune in the New World.
My brother is researching our paternal ancestors. He told me one day, we seem to have come from merchant class ancestors. No rich kings, brilliant philosophers, no hidden claim to fame in the group. (If you subscribe to one of the on-line ancestry businesses, they will give you~for a small fee~a reason to claim fame) When you sit down and really start tracing back your lineage, it may end up being quite different. He seemed a little disappointed when he told me this news. I happen to think this seems reasonable and really something to be quite proud of. Among the masses, being from the merchant class puts you squarely in the middle class. I am perfectly happy and satisfied with middle class--these people were hard workers and able to succeed in the business world. That seems to be something to be proud of.
With all this talk of our family lineage, I began to wonder what my ancestors would think of what I have done with my life. My brothers and I have all graduated from college and one brother went to law school~that is certainly more education than most of our fore bearers had. My father went to business school and my mother graduated from high school~back when it was 11 grades. She was a self taught insurance professional and ended up as a commercial underwriter which is quite a feat. She seemed to be very proud of all three of us and what we had accomplished. Did she approve of all our choices--heavens NO! She did seem to be proud-especially around others of how we turned out and where we were in the world, even though our families had morphed from the way we were raised.
This has me thinking over the early church and how it looked in those early years. Our local church history expert has been teaching Sunday School for us recently. It is amazing to hear him speak of the early church fathers and the struggle over what was truth when it came to Christianity. Getting where we are today with our theology was a real struggle and for the truth to prevail has taken God's intervention and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is an amazing story.
When we look at the early church, as described in Acts, we seem to have strayed far away from the original church. One sure fact is Jesus is still the reason for Christianity. We have our differences, but Jesus being the reason for our hope is still the basic claim of all Christianity. We have morphed into more denominations than I can count, but the central theme of Jesus being the propitiation for our sins has remained constant. What would the church fathers think of how we look today? I think they might wonder how we came to look like we do. BUT, would they recognize what we claim as truth today as being the same truth they subscribed to all those hundreds of years ago---With God's help--I think they would. I am thankful for all those who went before me and paved the way for me to continue down the path. All in God's grand plan--for His good purpose and glory.