Skip to main content

Break the Cycle

Our Narrative Lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday is from 2 Kings 22:1-10.  Josiah becomes king at 8 years old.  After generations of terribly abusive kings, he decides to reform the temple and bring the people back to worship.  He fixes the temple and re-institutes the teachings of Moses. 

Two major truths stood out to me this week.
1.) We are not captive to inheriting the sins of our father

Scriptures tell us that the sins of our parents visit even the 3rd and 4th generations.  This idea is seen first in Exodus 20 with the 10 commandments.  We often forget the end of the statement though.  Exodus 20:5-6 tells us that our sins may visit 3 or 4 generations, but God's love visits thousands of generations. 

I come from a family of alcoholics, and I have a unique understanding of how alcoholism can pass from one generation to the next.  As I have explored that, I have seen how many of our parents habits become our own.  We inherit their temper, their conflict avoidance, their shallow emotions, anger, or whatever other burdens they may carry on into their own adulthood.  The thing is, we don't have to. We can learn new patterns. Change what you don't like.  God's love can free us. 

Side note: Ezekiel 18 clarifies that it is not God punishing generations, for God's justice is aimed at the individual.  But God does not deny that our parents way of living does impact us.  The hope of the gospel is that God can set us free from this cycle.  We are no longer captive to our sins. 

2.) Part of the journey is to receive feedback and apply it with humility

Josiah started this journey with a simple action, cleaning out the temple.  Upon cleaning it though, he discovered the book of Moses.  The book explained how to worship God and holidays to celebrate.  Josiah realized they were doing it all wrong.  It would have been easy to hide or ignore the book, but instead he instituted change. 

When we discover toxic patterns from our parents we can hide them, or ignore them, or we can do the hard work of rehab.  That work begins with recognizing the problem and being humble enough to  accept it. 

Many of our inherited patterns are so normalized for us that we could never defeat them without feedback from others.  As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17; Romans 15:1-2; Ephesians 4:25).

May each of you be blessed by people willing to give you difficult feedback.  May you have ears to hear and eyes to see.  May God give you strength to break the cycle, and free you from any negative pattern you inherited from your family.


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie