Getting Back to the Right Family Tree
From the beginning, family has been vitally important. The roots of problems go way back, and so do the roots of success.
They are consistently the greatest influences that mold and shape every one of us.
Yet they are wildly inconsistent in form, ranging from small to large, structured to chaotic, predictable to erratic, close-knit to detached, tranquil to turbulent, controlling to indulgent, authoritarian to permissive, protective to dangerous, compassionate to cruel, warm to cold, and so on.
They are … our families!
Somewhere in that list of traits you find your own family identity and the ways, for good or bad, that environment has profoundly affected your life.
They could have had it all
As important as family is to us, it’s an even bigger deal to God. He, too, wants to profoundly affect our lives, first and foremost through the concept of family. Children, sons and daughters, He calls us. Father, Brother, He calls Himself and Jesus Christ. He’s heavy on family identity because His whole reason for creating us was so that we can be in His eternal family!
So at the same time He created His first children, Adam and Eve, He also created the human family, first through the marriage institution (“a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”), then through the blessing that they should “be fruitful and multiply.”
What a head start! This beautiful couple had it all—their gorgeous Garden of Eden home, no fears, no struggles, no past problems to deal with and, best of all, a personal relationship with God. A great life that could even get better!
They lost it all
But Adam and Eve still faced one big potential problem: their own thinking and the freedom to choose. “Do we follow God or not?” The threat came to them through a few ideas planted in their minds, but those ideas would lead to life-and-death decisions.
The serpent targeted Eve’s thinking on several levels—you can’t trust God; you’re good enough to know good and evil without God; there’s a better way than what He’s telling you; you don’t know what you’re missing out on!
It worked. She rejected God and ate of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and Adam quickly followed.
Just like that, they lost it all—home, security, comfort and, worst of all, that familial closeness with their Father. From then on, they and all of us following have eaten of their tree of choice, deciding for ourselves what is good, what is evil. This diet, predictably, has produced mixed fruit. Some things have turned out good; some things evil.
So how did their family life turn out? Well, considering that one of their children murdered his brother—“not so good.” How painful that must have been for the whole family! How often must Adam and Eve have rued the day they chose to dismiss God.
Getting back to what we need
Don’t we all want, need, what only good family life can provide? Loving marriages, wise parenting, thriving relationships?
Because family is so important to God, so critical for society’s stability, and determines so much of our happiness and success, Discern consistently features articles on God’s instructions for healthy marriages and families. As you’ll see beginning on page 15, family is this issue’s primary focus.
We can’t get our families “back to the garden.” But we can get our families back to God—to knowing Him as our Father, to learning His principles of living. We can get them to the family tree we need—the tree of life!