The Family Tree of Life

Within the story of creation, God is very clear that aloneness is a state that is “not good.” God carefully ensured the world was free from the design flaw of loneliness by creating companionship. From this union, a family would form and multiply like the branches of a tree.

Our families go way back. I mean, way back — all the way to the beginning. Think of how many members there are in your family tree: way too many to count! We have a very big family, and we haven’t met the vast majority of relatives that share the same branch.

Perhaps your personal twig on the tree is full of lush leaves, getting direct sunlight every day. It might even be the one that old couples, on their post-dinner walk, would gush over. Or maybe it’s the exact opposite. Maybe you feel like your twig is weak, and seems to have some sort of molecular fungus. It doesn’t look all that pretty — heck, you’re just glad it hasn’t fallen off completely. If this is you, take courage. You are not alone in the world, though it may feel that way. The rest of you are probably somewhere in between these metaphorical placements on the big family tree of humanity; your twigs have a share of both beauty and disease.

Just as a twig takes its form from the branch it stems from, each of us reflect the beauty and disease of our families. Some of us have courageously identified where life has flourished and where it has died as a result of generational blessing or curse. Particularly difficult and important is the task of being gut-level honest about how the branches we come from may be infected. No amount of positive thinking, denial, or obsessive overcompensation fixes family disease. Any doctor will tell you that physical infections must have antibiotics or they will result in the loss of a limb or even death. The diseased family tissues must be identified, opened, cleared, and healthfully reconnected to the tree in order for the beauty of God’s original design for relationship to be established. This gruelling process of regeneration is at the base of why relationships can be so hard. And most of us make it harder when we avoid owning the root of our greatest infections, until a crisis forces us to take seriously the severity of our family’s disease.

At the end of Ephesians 3, Paul prays for the family of God to be rooted and established in love, so they would have the power to comprehend and be filled with Christ’s love. This power is what we need in order to be thriving twigs, with relational wholeness beyond what we ever could imagine. Instead of rotting at the base, our twigs need the nourishment of God’s pure, righteous, and good love.

We can’t fix infectious diseases ourselves — we simply don’t have the antibiotics. God has designed us to thrive within familial love. He beckons each of us to come to Him with all our infected parts, with everything that gets in the way of connecting to our neighbouring twigs. God is the great arborist, the true Father, the originator of humanity’s big and beautiful family tree. In His kind and good love, we find healing for every broken, generational sickness. And in His kind and good love, we can grasp the hope of an eternity of familial wholeness.

Originally published in Issue 15 of Converge Magazine.


Photo by (Flickr CC): Brooke Hoyer