Orphans + Adoption = the Gospel

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Orphans + Adoption = the Gospel

Children have become nothing more than consumer products for people. Roughly a month ago a Tennessee family adopted a 7 year old Russian born boy and after a little more than a year, the child became what the parents thought was more than a handful to take care of. Apparently, according to both the adoptive mother and grandmother, the boy began to act in a violent way raising concerns about pre-existing conditions which the Russian government failed to let the American family know about. Finally, the mother had enough and decided to send him back to Russia on a plane, by himself, with simply a letter of refund with him. If this story is not jaw-dropping enough, just a few days prior to this, a doctor in an abortion clinic in South Florida was asked to perform an abortion on one of the twins inside a mother’s womb. The twin to be aborted apparently was said to have signs of down syndrome and the parents did not want it. To the parent’s utter horror, the doctor mistakenly aborted the wrong baby, killing, the other one who did not have down syndrome. Children have become nothing more than a pair of Nike shoes: if you don’t like how they look, how they act, or how they feel as your child, send them back, return them, or have them aborted.

As horrendous as these stories are, there exists an equally horrendous ongoing story on a global level which prevails throughout every continent – the crisis of orphans. Christians are inextricably linked to the orphan crisis around the world. Whether it is foster homes here in the States or children being abandoned by the thousands throughout Somalia, the call to serve orphans and even adopt is starring Christianity in the face and is a call to take action.

Some may say we have heard enough about the need to take care of orphans, that a child around the world going hungry has been a perpetual issue for both the United Nations as well as the local church. May it be clear that Christians can never hear too much about the need to act upon the orphan crisis and to do all they can to help – but why? Orphans around the world, whether adopted or not, testify to the gospel and it’s unsurpassable power in the life of someone who places their trust in Jesus Christ. Orphans, and thus adoption are both central to the gospel.

It would do us well to recall that all Christians were once in what the bible calls our “former ignorance” (Eph. 4; 1 Peter 1:14). That is, we were “dead in our trespasses and sins” and were once “enemies of God” (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 5:5). We were spiritual orphans, dying a slow agonizing death. But then, we were “adopted as sons” (Eph. 1:5).

Although the word adoption is not found in the Old Testament, there is nonetheless a link between the concept of adoption with Israel serving as the child to be adopted, and her God Yahweh serving as the adoptive parent. Ezekiel 16:1-7 says:

This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites. Your father was and Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, your umbilical cord wasn’t cut on the day you were born, and you weren’t washed clean with water. You were not rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one cared enough about you to do even one of these things out of compassion for you. But you were thrown out into the open field because you were despised on the day you were born.

Then the Lord spoke,
I passed by you and saw you lying in your blood, and I said to you as you lay, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you as you lay ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like plants of the field. You grew up and matured and became very beautiful.

What continues is how the Lord took care of His once abandoned child –Israel.

When God saw us in our destitute state, we could not have profited Him in any way. Yet, out of His great love, He chose to adopt us. Likewise, when you and I chose to serve orphans or even adopt, we are welcoming someone into our life and family out of our love, not because they can profit us in any way. The irony is, we end up receiving the blessing from the joy they bring us. In like manner, for God so loved us, that He adopted us and, as we read in Ephesians 1:18, we see that we are God’s inheritance. That is to say, that we inherit heaven and righteousness in Christ, and God receives us as children to live with Him in heaven. The blessing is seen on both ends – all part of His sovereign plan.

For a working definition of heavenly adoption, we turn to John Murray, author of Redemption, Accomplished and Applied: adoption is when the redeemed become sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; they are introduced into and given the privileges of God’s family – John 1:12.

Being adopted by God staggers our imagination, for who would have thought that God would see fit to adopt us when He knew our every thought, word, and deed. Like earthly adoption, heavenly adoption is also a legal act. Hence, when someone places their trust in Christ, they are justified and adopted instantaneously. Now, as a result of this, our new relationship as God’s child can never be separated. God chose us, intimately and personally. With all the past baggage we have, He still said “I want you.” What we must glean from this is simply, we in the eyes of God are anything but mere consumer products. He did not choose us only to give us up, regardless if we as His children do not act accordingly. God, like a good father, will discipline his children as He sees fit, but He will never give up on His children. Hence, adoption is at the center of God’s unconditional love, at the center of the gospel. We, who once were in a spiritual orphan like state, have been adopted by God through Christ by way of the gospel.

May we be encouraged to look at the orphan crisis around the world more affectionately in light of realizing an orphan in the child brothels of India and us have more in common than we previously supposed. May we realize the gospel is not merely a call to preach, but to serve. May we grow in our burden for orphans in a destitute state, a state which gives us a visual as to what we were spiritually before Christ, and be moved to take action on their behalf as God did on ours.

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