Breaking family altars is a favourite topic of our days. The subject has taken different twists and turns. First, individuals are to go back and search their roots to find any trails of anything fishy. Due to the complexity of family backgrounds; some have accepted their status as fate. I have dealt with Christians asked to provide goats and cows for sacrifice to break free from evil family backgrounds. In some cases, individuals are to give specific amounts of money equivalent to their issues and the blessings they want to be assisted. When highly recognised ministers of the gospel propagate these ways of dealing with life challenges, then it becomes even more complex to question the biblical foundation for this subject.
We lack Berea’s Christians in our generation who will interrogate everything regardless of who says (Acts 17:10-15). The desperation of humans to find answers to their life struggles has led to an unbiblical diagnosis of their issues by pastors. If you have no job, struggling with sexual sin, stealing, lying, etc. is always attached to family lineage and the prescription for dealing with such issues is questionable. You are required to give a sacrifice of a lot of money or bring an animal for sacrifice to change the situation. I hear testimonies of individuals who have given out their life savings and still nothing has changed. To some, their children have hated God even more as they end in a state of abject poverty. Asking some pastors about it, they say the person did not have enough faith, and that is why nothing has changed. Others will refer them to a more powerful man of God, a similar version of what is done by witchdoctors whereby a more powerful witch can overturn a bewitchment of a lesser powerful one.
Many families and individuals have gone through so much pain by losing everything they have. We need to interpret scriptures in the right way to stop misleading God’s people. The gospel we preach has become so difficult for Christians to understand. It sounds like it’s reserved for a few chosen ones. One pastor told my neighbour that she must be prayed for by him since he is the one with access to the spiritual realm else she will not have a breakthrough.
SIN IS SIN
First things first, let us call what is sinful as sin and not baptize it in other ways. When we baptize sin with other names to suit our intentions of financial extortion, then we are reading from different Bibles. It leads to what we have seen in terms of unbiblical ways of dealing with sin. If we diagnose sexual immorality as a family altar, then the prescription is giving a sacrifice to deal with it, what have we made of Jesus death on the cross? Didn’t he die for such sins? If we continue sinning in the name of family altars, have we not trampled underfoot the Son of God and profaned the blood of the covenant as well as outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29). If your problem is being drunk, is the remedy giving some sacrifice to end the addiction? Think of many other things the Bible calls sins and observe the manipulation in our world today.
REDEFINING UNGODLY ALTARS IN SCRIPTURE
One of the challenges we have as a church is wrong interpretations of the scripture. We have made God look like a liar as we seek to offer solutions that are unbiblical to biblical issues. Little knowledge is dangerous. We have stood to defend the gospel ministers we envy instead of defending the gospel itself.
One of the most commonly scriptural examples given in breaking family altars is the story, Gideon. Judges 6:26 focuses on transiting to the worship of Yahweh and doing away with idol worship. Gideon’s father worshipped Baal and God is calling for a change of that. The equivalent of it in our context is changing from ancestral worship to the worship of Yahweh; it is turning from the dark kingdom to the kingdom of light; it is turning from sinfulness to holiness. Such transition begins from the acknowledgement of what Christ has done on the cross. When you allow Christ to rule over your life and guide the way you live, then you also resolve not to follow the evil ways of your fathers. You cannot be on God’s side, obeying him fully and continue in sexual immorality, for instance. Your choice of obeying Christ comes with opposition and criticism from those who embrace your previous lifestyle. It is what happens to Gideon if we are to apply that in our context.
When God called his people to destroy altars, images and groves, he was demanding total allegiance to him by his people (Exodus 34:13-14). God alone deserves worship. Anything else that takes his place is an idol. Deciding to worship God means leaving every evil practice from our background. I am yet to see someone in the Bible and our lives today who has fully obeyed God and suffered disappointment from him. David says in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young and now am old and have never seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
DIAGNOSIS OF LIFE STRUGGLES IN SCRIPTURE
The Bible has defined life struggles in different ways. We cannot just be so limited and use one experience to justify all issues. Not all struggles are as a result of sin. The Bible is broad in its view of human struggles. Your duty as a believer is one to ensure you live a holy life, align your life to God’s will, trust God no matter what happens in your walk with God. They are lessons we learn from biblical figures that have walked with God in their lives.
Joseph had a dream from God. The envy of the brothers was God’s providence for his will to prevail in Joseph’s life. It is how Joseph perceived his brothers’ actions, and he never harboured bitterness in his life toward them. Today we are directed to hate our family members and neighbours when our lives fail to function as we envision. The product of anything that comes from God is in line with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). If a prophecy or word from a man of God leads to hatred of those close to you, then run and run very fast.
Job’s struggle is different from that of Joseph. He responded not by blaming God nor cursing him but ensuring holiness as part of his daily living in his struggle. He glorified God, and finally, God came through for him, and today we can learn much about God and life battles from him. No one ever encountered God remained the same. Jabez called on God and answered without God telling him to destroy a specific altar with a certain number of cows or goats.
You cannot have God as your father without enjoying the blessings of sonship. If you have sins you are struggling with, the blood of Jesus has dealt with that. If you are struggling financially better reach out for help and advise and don’t drag your family and in-laws into this, leading to breaking of families because that is not in line with the character of God. If there is something you must deal with that is beyond you, God is gracious enough to speak with you and deal with the issue when you call on him. It would help if you had a precise analysis of scripture about your issue. Wrong diagnosis leads to the wrong prescription.
Families have issues that they struggle with and have trickled down to their children. I have interacted with young men whose dads are their heroes even while being immoral. I have seen ladies whose parents and grandparents never raised their children, and it has moved down to children as well. I have seen men who hide in the sins of their unfaithful fathers to keep their marriages while at the same time be unfaithful to their wives. We cannot continue sinning, yet we have received the knowledge of the truth. There is no other sacrifice for sin that is left only God’s judgement for our sins (Hebrews 10:26-29). What the blood of bulls could not do has been done by Jesus, your life is so special and meaningful to God that he bought you with his own life hence no amount of money can set you free apart from the blood of Jesus.
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