Have you ever heard stories of people who would never share or spend money, live as if they had no money, then die friendless, leaving behind a mattress full of cash? Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who was in danger of living such a life. He never realized he was carrying around an invisible chain he created himself, because of his unwillingness to show any concern for his fellow man. Could current-day Christians be weaving their own chain by ignoring their ancestors?

Our Christian heritage represents a priceless gift made up of memories, good and bad, of past events, lessons learned, and can be traced back to the very beginning. Does God care if we know our history? Consider that the word “remember” appears in the KJV Bible 148 times, and 166 times in the NIV.

I confess that the idea of studying my Christian heritage made me ill at one time. What value was there in knowing all of those dates or names—how would I benefit?

My eyes were opened to a “new world” while studying Sir Gawain and the Green Knight during an English Masterpieces class in college. Because the professor took the time to explain the author’s message, I began to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is much more than a King Arthur story, but I never would have realized what a gift this poem represented to my Christian heritage if the teacher had not taken the time to explain the metaphors, the history, and that the story was actually a commentary on the Church of the day.

How many priceless gifts are we ignoring, or passing by because we don’t see them for what they are?

Twenty-first century Christians are confronted everyday with challenges to their faith, challenges to the Bible. Our ancestors faced worse, and we can learn from their experiences. We can be encouraged by their strength and learn from their failings.