I spent this past weekend in Arizona visiting my grandparents, my parents, and my sister. It was very important to me that my children meet their great grandparents (and vice versa), and I wanted to take this trip while I was able to and while my grandparents were able to enjoy the kids.

While Button and Cutie Pie probably will not remember meeting them, or playing the piano and painting with Great Papa (my grandpa is an accomplished musician and artist), they will have the pictures and videos. And the connection will have been made. It is critical that our kids know their heritage, know their legacy, and know where they come from.

And it is critical that we know where we came from too. We all have a legacy; we all have a heritage; we all have a family.

We’re used to thinking of our genealogy as a biological one — who married whom, who begot whom, etc. You know, your classic “family tree.” But we also have a spiritual family tree full of spiritual ancestors. Jesus had a follower who shared the gospel with someone, who shared the gospel with someone, who — many generations later — shared the gospel with me. And I have inherited a spiritual legacy and a spiritual heritage from them.

Just like we have many relatives who have shaped our biological heritage, we have many spiritual brothers and sisters who have shaped our spiritual heritage. My spiritual influence and shaping did not end with the camp counselor who initially led me to Jesus; it has been shaped and added to by numerous people since then, including my mother, my husband, my in-laws, friends, and some elders and pastors. These people are my immediate spiritual family. They all have shared the gospel with me, in word and in action, as I have grown as a Christian.

I have a broader spiritual family as well: all people who follow Jesus are part of the same family. The Bible tells us that we are co-heirs with Jesus in all that is His. And that we are His brothers and sisters, grafted into His family tree. That is why churches sometimes use the word “family” to talk about their church body, and why people sometimes refer to other Christians as “brother” or “sister.”

It is critical that we know where we came from spiritually. We all have a spiritual legacy; we all have a spiritual heritage; we all have a spiritual family. Studying the Bible and the writings of church saints throughout history is like reading the journals and writings of your great, great, great grandmother. Cultivating relationships at church and pursuing spiritual mentorship is like spending time playing the piano with your great grandfather.

You won’t have a clear idea of where you’re going unless you have a clear idea of where you came from.