Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recovering Heritage

This article is, first of all, about restoring our relationships with our fathers. I say fathers in the plural sense because, while we all have only one biological father, there are various other fatherly influences in our lives. For instance, God is also our Father -- our spiritual Father. There are also those fatherly influences indicated in the New Testament when Paul calls Timothy "my son." And there are always those mentoring influences (Galatians 6:6) where men of wisdom have led us to maturity. Certainly these mentors have also played a fatherly role in our lives. We ought to honor all these fathering relationships. And yet, recovering heritage is about more than just fathers.

While it is true that fathers are responsible for passing on their heritage, heritage is about more than the dynamics of this paternal relationship. A heritage is a tangible thing. It is either tangible in terms of the character displayed by the one receiving the heritage or it is tangible in some form of material inheritance. Sometimes it is even apparent in our beliefs. Beyond our genes and relationships, our character, reputation, inheritance, beliefs, and more can all be a part of our heritage.

When we talk about recovering our heritage, we are not just talking about restoring our relationship with our father and our family. We are also talking about recovering the original purpose God had in mind when he created our forefathers. It is an undeniable fact that bodies and brains are made distinct from one another and that some are more apt for some work than others. There is no shame in recognizing this distinction and no shame in using a tool well for the purpose for which it was crafted. In fact, there is a certain wisdom and satisfaction in using our minds and our bodies efficiently. This too is part of the heritage we should endeavor to recover.

There is a dynamic thread of aptitude running through our ancestry that is also woven into our bodies and sometimes, through stories, into our memories. Our forefathers found nobility in doing well what they were made to do best. In that activity, there was no comparison, only the merit earned as they became masters of their respective crafts. Whether they were builders or simple carpenters, their satisfaction came not so much from the money they earned as much as from the masterpieces and reputations they built.

Sometimes, these masterpieces were songs or stories or poems. At other times they were fields and flocks. And sometimes they were also boats and buildings, tools and trades, and any other craft man could put his hands to. But more than this, these masterpieces were the communities built around skills, around the pursuit of excellence, and around the exercise of integrity. The real masterpieces were not made of wood and stone, but of flesh and blood. They were relationships and communities of relationships whose corporate expressions of excellence and compassion reflected the excellence and compassion of God.

This is the heritage I am seeking to recover -- a comprehensive heritage that encompasses everything Jesus died to redeem. Whether it is honor or riches or talent, I want it all applied to the glory of God. This is the richest heritage -- that man might join nature in acclaiming the glory of God in every action, every word, and with every breath. This is the heritage that I claim -- that God is my Father, that He is glorious, and that reflecting His glory is the most suitable and honorable occupation for mankind and our most noble pursuit.

Michael Hennen