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Twisted Limbs and Family Trees!

Family life can be tough. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "There's no such thing as fun for the whole family." Ken Hubbard observed, "Distant relatives are the best kind, and the further the better." None of us got to choose the family we were born into, but all of us were born into one. All families are not equal when it comes to effective child-rearing and nurturing healthy relationships between family members. In the majority of cases things work out pretty well in the long run, and most of us turn out alright in spite of the fact that every family is composed of flawed and imperfect people, moms and dads and husbands and wives included. We all come into the world as free moral agents in need of love, training, and guidance if we are to learn the fine art of how to live as a decent human being. What took me awhile to realize is that sometimes things can go astray even in the best of families. Even when Mom and Dad are God-fearing people and do their dead level best to provide a proper environment and upbringing, some children go astray. In the beginning God had two children, and they enjoyed a perfect environment under the loving and watchful care and guidance of history's only Perfect Parent. And yet they went astray (see Genesis chapters 2, 3). Start climbing up or down the branches of any family tree and you will quickly discover there are some twisted limbs here and there!

Somebody said, "Every family tree has some sap in it." Any "saps" in your's?! Recently I read this attention-arresting statement from the pen of religious author, Eugene H. Petersen (from his book Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager) — "A search of Scripture turns up one rather surprising truth: there are no exemplary families. Not a single family is portrayed in Scripture in such a way as to evoke admiration in us. There are many family stories, there is considerable reference to family life, and there is sound counsel to guide the growth of families, but not a single model family for anyone to look up to in either awe or envy." He may be right. Think about it. Cain killing Abel; Noah getting drunk after the flood and shamefully exposed; Jacob and Esau's bitter rivalry that estranged them for years; Jacob's deceit and then his favoritism toward Joseph and then, subsequently, Joseph's awful suffering and mistreatment at the hands of his envious, hate-filled brothers; Abraham's "deal" with his beautiful wife Sarah to lie to residents of Canaan to protect him, even if it exposes Sarah to possible danger (see Genesis 12:13; 20:1ff, especially vs 13); and David, a man after God's own heart, but the case can be made that he was one of the poorest parents in the Bible. The point is not that all these people were all bad. Some were among the brightest stars in God's big show! But none were perfect — and that's the point — God uses imperfect people to bring about His perfect plan. Even His family, the chosen family, had twisted limbs in the tree! Amazing then, is it not, to read in Matthew 1:1, "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham" — and then Matthew traces a list of limbs on Jesus' family tree from Abraham all the way down to Joseph and Mary. The only perfect and sinless limb in the tree was the topmost branch — Jesus! Conclusion: God uses even twisted limbs to build His family tree! Aren't you glad?!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ