Bridging Contexts: The Importance of Genealogies

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I would venture a guess that most of us American Christians, when reading the Gospels, skim through the genealogies of Jesus.  I mean, they’re hard to read, and they aren’t that edifying to our Western mindset.  So imagine my surprise when I find out dialoguing with non-Western Christians about the importance of these passages!

After reflecting on this issue, I realized why there was such emphasis on these passages.  The role of the family and the tribe has a great significance in most non-West cultures.  Ancestor worship is a danger that many of the churches face as they attempt to balance the Christian value of family with the traditional tribal or Eastern beliefs.   This emphasis leads to great fascination of the tribe from which Jesus came.

And so, if we are in danger of neglecting these passages (to our detriment), then the non-Western Christians are in danger of overemphasizing these passages.

I want to be clear–none of my students struggled with this issue; they only raised the comment because of their cultural context.

The most amazing thing about this?  Despite being in vastly different cultures, the Gospel transcends both American culture (and corrects it) and non-Western culture (and corrects it), speaking into both.

Praise God!


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