Once a Chip Not Always a Chip

April 12, 2017

Recently I listened to a This American Life podcast entitled Switched at Birth. As you might think, this episode is about two baby girls who went home with the wrong mothers. I found the story that was told to be very intriguing. How can a mess like this be cleaned up, especially when one of the mothers was pretty certain as to what had happened right from the very beginning?

My purpose isn’t to retell the story; rather, I’d like to focus on one very interesting dynamic. Even though the girls weren’t raised with their biological families, they still retained many of the characteristics of the gene pool from which they came. One girl came from a family that was nervous, studious, and serious. Even though she was raised in a family that was much more lighthearted and given to jokes, this girl didn’t adopt the other family’s characteristics. She remained serious. The baby from the more lighthearted family retained her biological family’s jokester personality. Her parents never could tell when she was being sarcastic and couldn’t understand her interest in athletics. It goes without saying that the each girl retained the physical looks of the family from which she came. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The chip retains the block’s characteristics even if the block has been removed. Depending on our own struggles with sin, this might, or might not, be a good thing.

Think of the story of Joash. I’m referring to the Joash from Judah. He wasn’t raised by his father Ahaziah, who had been killed by Jehu. Rather he was instructed by a priest named Jehoiada. However, after Jehoiada died, Joash revived Baal and the Asherah worship that his father, Ahaziah, had promoted. In the end, he had the prophet Zechariah, the son of his mentor, Jehoiada, put to death. Even though Dad had been dead for nearly 50 years, and Joash never had a conversation with him, his influence was inescapable.

I’d like to apply this experience to several situations. First, there is application for those who adopt. Even it one were to adopt a completely healthy newborn, more than likely, that newborn is going to retain some of the personality traits and proclivities from the birth parents. In a way, there are four (assuming a man and a woman did the adopting) people who have a hand in how the adopted child will turn out. Just as intelligence and physical appearance is passed to one’s children, so are other proclivities and tendencies. Therefore, parents who adopt even an infant might be in for an interesting ride, especially if the biological parents of the adopted child are very different from those doing the adopting. I mention this to explain why adopted children can be a challenge to raise.

Second, Christians are adopted children. We’ve been adopted into God’s family. We all start out with the devil being our father (John 8:44). We are born children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). This to say, just as adopted children retain some of their parents’ tendencies, so do believers. We can all look like our diabolical father at times. But then, I don’t need to tell you this.

Here’s the good news: grace is stronger than family ties. This is why, if you are a believer, you are in the family of God. Not only is grace stronger than family ties, but it is stronger than sin. Jeremiah 31:29 says, “In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’” You get the point. A parent’s sin and its consequences aren’t necessarily passed on. Grace is stronger than sin. Then there is that wonderful verse in the same passage (34) that says “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” God’s grace can overcome anything, both family and personal sin.

So, we raise our children whether adopted or not, trusting that God’s grace can and will overcome parental sin. After all, God’s grace not only forgives but it also conforms us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). In this life, we, nor our children, will ever completely look like Jesus. This is why we’re always “groaning,” looking forward to the next life. Rom. 8:23 says, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” One day, we’ll no longer be chips off the old block.

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3 Responses to “Once a Chip Not Always a Chip”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    I enjoyed this article. I was getting a bit worried and sad until I got to the paragraph that started out “Here’s the good news: grace is stronger than family ties.” That paragraph reminded and taught me that no matter the inherited characteristics and sins I can still be with God at any given moment and He will accept me, guide me and love me. Ahhhh – the incredible gift of God’s love….nothing quite like it.

  2. Bobbi Says:

    I’ve entitled my blog “Overcoming our Genes.” My husband and I have 2 children. Their personalities are a mixture of me and my husbands personalities. I have told them that we must work on overcoming our genes with God’s help. Someday when we see Jesus we will be like Him. Can’t wait!


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