One of my all-time favorite authors is Francine Rivers, I love the way she takes scripture and converts into such relatable fiction stories. Her book, Redeeming Love, introduced me to the world of reading fiction and I have never looked back. To date my library has a good selection of fiction books, some that I could read and reread and never tire of. Yet as if one book was not enough, a couple of years ago another of her books sneaked into my all-time favorite books list, Lineage of Grace.
Lineage of Grace breaks down the genealogy of Christ as recorded in the book of Matthew. This week’s sermon in my church was about the same thing, the lineage of Christ; and so as we get into Christmas, this message is tagging into my heart yet again.
The drama in this lineage
The sermon talks about the anomalies in the lineage of Christ. For starters, this lineage includes women at a time when women were considered less important and therefore if it were upto the prevailing culture, only the men in Christ’s lineage would have been mentioned. God ignores the prevailing culture and ensures that the recording of the lineage of Christ includes women. As if this is not enough, some of these women are not of good repute.
Tamar, was the lady who had cheated her father-in-law into prostituting with her. The result was a son that ends up in the lineage of Christ. Then there was Rahab, the lady was a prostitute in her Jericho life, surely the lineage of Christ should be made of people whose past is not too trodden.
Then there was Ruth, the lady was a Moabite, in a society that heavily looked down on Moabites coz they were the fruit of an incestuous indiscretion that was perpetrated by Lot’s daughters to their father.
As if all these are not enough, this lineage has Bathsheba! David had many wives, surely more legitimate wives should be in the lineage of Christ? Yet it is the woman who David had an affair with, the woman for whom he killed her husband, that is in the lineage of Christ. Where is the justice in all these?
By human standards
You see we live in a world of fairness. Where we get what we deserve. The last thing these ladies deserve is to be in the lineage of the Holy of Holies, the Lord our God. I liked what the pastor said in this sermon, that if a vetting board had been formed, you betcha these ladies would not have made it to the shortlisted, what with their past and the prevailing culture. Yet God does not consult anyone, He uses them anyway, with their past, culture against them and all.
These ladies represented those that the society would rather hash-hash. In our world it’s like including the guy who has kids outside wedlock in the high table, or the woman who committed adultery with a married guy in the high table, or the guy who walked into church very drunk, or the guy who walked into church very confused about her sexuality. Or the teenager that has been every club in Nairobi.
Sometime back my church had one of the ladies in a local radio co-lead a sermon in the church; I tell you the havoc it created in the Christian circles. This was a Tamar seated being given a kingly seat in holiest place, the Church, how is that right many asked? Okay, a more recent example is the beating this lady in Tusker Project Fame (TPF) got for her dressing; how is this a representation of Christ? We forget Christ was represented even by a Rahab, a prostitute. This reminded me of the telling some of our local ‘Christian’ artists have gotten for taking part in TPF.
Our society has created ranks in the church, ranks that only the Holy of Holy seat in, ranks that have no room for errors, ranks that weigh sins; we have made Christianity this almost unachievable thing for a commoner. Yet Christ’s lineage reminds me, but by Grace!
Lest we forget
As I meditate on this lineage of Christ, I can’t help but wonder why God would choose to have these ladies included in the lineage of the Holy of Holies? Perhaps it’s so that we never forget what the church is about, it is about such imperfect people who God literally chooses to use despite and inspire their past and their shortfalls. DESPITE and INSPITE.
This lineage, and many other parables that Christ give always take me back to the heart of who He is. This parable of the guys who started to work on the 11th hour and still got paid the same amount of delarius as those who’d worked all day is in mind. “And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
His lineage is in every way reminder of this.
So every time I forget this truth, every time the church is about anything less, about a more sanitized kind of people, we miss the point. The day the church ceases being home to the ‘lost’, that’s the day I judge the lineage of Christ.
As I celebrate this Christmas season, my prayer is that God teaches me to accept and to give this Grace, freely and with all my heart. My prayer is He teaches me to go against the grain; the culture, the people, the past; and freely give a Grace that I freely receive every day. My prayer is that I may never forget this truth, that it is not because I deserved to be His that I am His, it has everything to do with that He chooses against the grain, against the culture, against my past; He chooses and loves so freely despite all this. He is that God. I pray this is engraved in my daily walk, a lineage of Grace, a walk of Grace, a life of Grace.