Matthew 1:1-17 begins with the Genealogy of Jesus. It includes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; moves on to Rahab, Boaz, and Ruth; David, Solomon, and Hezekiah; and then to Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The first gospel in the New Testament spends the first 17 verses discussing lineage. Seemingly then, it must be important to know how we are connected by blood to those who came before us. Likewise, since we are all adopted into Christ’s family, we have many brothers and sisters to whom we have no blood affiliation, but to whom we are strongly related and connected in the faith. John 1:11-13 tells us:
11 He came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. 12 But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God. 13 They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself”. (ERV)
As United reminds us in their song Oceans:
You call me out upon the waters; the great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery; In oceans deep, my faith will stand
Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So frequently, as we engage in the struggles of living out our purpose, we question if what we are doing has value or is beneficial to anyone. So often, when we are being obedient and are doing what God has asked us, we are simply executing tasks and cannot see the groundwork we are laying in His great plan. We are each an important yet micro piece in an over-arching mosaic, developed and put together in His time. Jeremiah 29:11-13 also tells us:
“I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.” (GNT)
In this scripture, God is telling us a few things. Particularly, there is a plan, that He designed, specifically for each of us, that is for our individual and collective good, greater than what we dream of. He is always there and available to us. Our job is to come to the foot of the cross with everything.
One of my role models, Dovey Roundtree, is an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, ordained minister, teacher and author. A graduate of Spelman undergrad and Howard law, Ms. Roundtree attained a critical victory before the Interstate Commerce Commission in the first bus desegregation case to be brought before the Commission, and laid the groundwork for successes in several civil rights cases including Brown vs. Board of Education. A protégé of black activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Ms. Roundtree was selected by Mrs. Bethune for the first class of African-American women to be trained as officers in the newly created Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. She later became one of the first women to receive full ministerial status in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She went on to break the color bar for minority women in the Washington legal community with her controversial admission to the all-white Women’s Bar of the District of Columbia. She continued as a trailblazer in dozens of other endeavors, all the while embodying humility, a spiritual walk and a sense of community. Her public service includes arguing landmark cases before the Supreme Court and tutoring after teaching Sunday school. She remained connected to common people, grounded by her faith and determined to live out her purpose He outlined for her. Her walk was not easy, just made possible by her faithful God.
Oceans lyrics continue with:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior
Fast forward fifty years, and battles of firsts are still being fought on the front lines. The struggles remain and are real. However, faith and obedience to Him are the critical elements that paved the roads behind us and light the paths before us. For example, but for Ms. Roundtree’s service in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp, did the military fully integrate and did law enforcement follow suit – my career path. But for her legal work, did I receive compulsory, secondary and college education in integrated state of the art facilities. Her work in the community and the pulpit influenced legislation, regulations, and policies that allow me to receive equal pay for my work, buy property where I want to live, and freely worship at my church without fear of racial or sex discrimination. Whatever I am called to do on any given day, I too have an obligation to follow through faithfully and with excellence.
As I reflect upon my interconnectedness to those around me, my thoughts are this:
- All of us believers share the same social and spiritual lineage
- Each day, He calls us into service of some sort
- Service is a privilege
- Each thing we do in His name contributes to a paving stone laid for those who follow us
- Every prayer we pray and selfless move we make shines a light for others
- Rejoice and be glad, even for the hurts and difficulties from past experiences. They, like the triumphs, served a purpose in His plan.
Romans 8:14-17 gives us a great reminder of our social lineage and how connected we are with:
“14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (NLT)