Everyone eats pizza on Christmas Eve, right?
Soon after I got married, I figured out that eating Dominos extra cheese pizza was not, in fact, the predominant tradition for all families on Christmas Eve. Evidently, my wife’s family had traditions of their own, equally instilled, and she found it very odd that my family grew up doing something different than the “right way.”
This benign example speaks to the generational patterns we all have.
So, what is a generational pattern? Whether we know it or not, we carry habits, hurts, behaviors, and baggage of all types that are passed to us from our families. Generational patterns can look like suppressing emotions, unhealthy consumption of substances to manage stress, or living with a constant feeling of never being nice enough, skinny enough, or financially successful enough. Whatever it is, we have inherited more than just the huge piece of furniture grandma wanted us to have. (It’s also important to add that generational patterns apply to everyone—even if you do not know your biological family or have no biological children of your own.)
While there can be positive generational patterns passed down, there are also negative ones that cause us harm, cause others harm, and even hinder our love for God. So, what is the solution? In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he spoke to new believers who were struggling between their newfound identity in Christ and the former patterns of their families, typical Jewish families of the day. He wrote,
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
Here we see the solution for not only the Galatian church but for us as well! Paul encourages them to live out of their new bloodline, secured and inherited through Christ’s death and resurrection. The old has passed away. Paul himself has crucified his old way of life, his old way of relating to others, and his old way of acceptance before God. Now he lives by faith in a new bloodline, a new inheritance, a new life, found in union with Jesus. Think also of how Paul typically addresses other Christians as brothers and sisters! We are part of a new family, secured by the blood of Jesus – a new bloodline.
Our New Bloodline in Jesus
Like any new community, club, church, or family, it takes a while to learn the customs, patterns, and ways of relating. That’s why God’s Word is vital to recognizing and living out the generational patterns that come with our new bloodline. We can see an example of the bloodline of Jesus in this story from Peter’s life. Remember how closely Peter walked with Jesus? When his life was on the line, however, Peter turned his back and denied knowing Jesus. So, after Jesus’s resurrection, He came back to Peter and asked the same deeply probing question three times in a row, once for each time Peter had publicly denied Him; “Do you love me?” Peter felt the shame of his denial and was expecting to receive anger and bitterness in return. Not so with Jesus. Jesus asked Peter three times so as to three-times restore Him! Jesus’s patterns with those closest to Him are founded in forgiveness and restoration, breaking and replacing the pattern of bitterness and anger. Jesus showed Peter his new bloodline.
Maybe your family has a long history of performance, making everyone proud, or doing the right thing. And what’s the penalty for messing up? Let’s look at the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, which tells us more about the characteristics of our new bloodline in Jesus. The prodigal son made a mess of everything when he left his father’s house and squandered his inheritance. But the generational pattern of his father was deep love and mercy, rooted in being his child and not in his mistakes. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:17-24) This story shows us that our Father in heaven has this same generational blessing for us when we are in His bloodline. So, what’s the penalty for messing up? Compassion and embrace are characteristics of our new bloodline.
The patterns in the Bible that we have in this new bloodline are too many to count, and as we discover them, these are treasures we can recognize as ours in Jesus each time we open our bibles. If you could replace one harmful pattern from your family with a life-giving one we see in the Scripture, which would it be? Keep finding more and reminding yourself of the new bloodline that is yours.
If you want to explore more into your generational patterns, Breaking Generational Patterns is one of 7 powerful keys laid out in our interactive discipleship study called Keys to Freedom. In this, you will spend five days of individual study working through this very topic. Grab your copy today!
Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.