I have often marveled at internet advertisements for exploring ancestral connections.1 The general thrust of these ads is, “If you really want to know the meaning of your life, you need to know your ancestry.”
I know something of my ancestry. I know about my Jewish ancestors back to the 1860s in Romania (very little information here). I know more about my great grandparents who came to New York in the 1880s, and quite a lot about my grandfather and grandmother who initially lived in the famous Jewish Ghetto in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I kept up with my Jewish relatives until the last uncle died in the late 1990s.
I also know a good bit about my Norwegian ancestors, going back to 1840. My happiness about my Norwegian ancestors is that in my specific case they transmitted a faith in Yeshua and were Christian Zionists from those early years. This heritage has been passed down to us. I have even traveled toNorway and met my cousins. We had a wonderful time together sharing our faith in God through Yeshua and our common understanding regarding Israel.
However, knowing about my ancestors does not give meaning to my life. The center of my life is that I am becoming like Yeshua, becoming a son of God in Yeshua. This supersedes all other aspects of my existence.
It is interesting to know about one’s ancestors. One might be surprised to find that some of one’s interests and orientations were passed down from generation to generation. Though I am not against this, for followers of Yeshua I don’t believe this should be such a central issue. The ancestral information craze is partly a symptom of a lack of rootedness in our modern world and not knowing where to really find meaning. Interestingly, some people seek to embrace foods and art that were not in their childhood family as a practical sign of connection to their genetic roots.
Let’s enjoy some knowledge of ancestry but let’s find the center of our identity in Yeshua.
1 Editor’s note: This article originated in a post from Dan Juster’s Facebook page, that we thought you might enjoy.