Adoption as Mission

Growing up, I never really viewed adoption {of children into a family} as a part of the Gospel mission. Honestly, I didn’t think much about adoption. I didn’t know too many families who had adopted children.

In my mind, adoption was plan B. In other words, if a couple couldn’t have children of their own, they might look into adoption. The primary motive for pursuing adoption was fulfillment for this couple who so desperately desired to be parents. Care for the orphaned child was secondary, if even considered.

I’m so thankful that God never leaves me where I happen to be {presently} in my thinking. He is constantly teaching and growing and changing me. The process of progressive sanctification is long and slow and hard, but through it, He is shaping my thinking and my living in order to make me look like Jesus.

In the last few years, my thinking has radically changed concerning the issue of adoption.

Did you know that adoption is a big deal to God? Throughout redemptive history, God has commanded His people to care for “the least of these” or those who are unable to care for themselves. God is explicit in His word: He loves the fatherless.

Psalm 68:5, “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.”

Psalm 10:14, “But You, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.  The victim commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.

Deuteronomy 10:18, “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”

Deuteronomy 14:28-30, “The Levite (priest), because he has not portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”

Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

The promotion of and teaching about adoption as obedience to the commands of Scripture is {at best} underemphasized and {at worst} blatantly ignored in too many local churches. Our society promotes loving those who can love you in return. In our culture, people are taught to look out for number one above all else. We’re encouraged to invest in things that will bring self-fulfillment, individual benefit and personal glory.

And the scary thing is, this mentality has crept into the Church.

But this isn’t Christ-like thinking or behavior. Through study of His earthly ministry as portrayed in the gospels, it is evident that Jesus did not bless and love only those who could bless and love in return. He didn’t care for others because they could bring Him some sort of personal benefit. In fact, he chose the most simple, ordinary and unlikely men to be his closest followers. He healed the sick and the blind and the physically weak. Jesus’ love for the “least of the these” was motivated by a heart of compassion {Matt 9:36, Matt 14:14, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:2, Luke 7:13, Luke 10:33}. Jesus loved the orphan, the widow, the sick and impoverished because His Father God loved these. He loved them because, like all humans beings, they were creations of Almighty God, carefully woven together by His hand and created in His image. As such they were creatures of dignity and great worth.

In James 1:27, genuine Christianity is qualified by a love for the least of these: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” 

In his commentary on this verse, John MacArthur says: “James picks two synonymous adjectives to define the most spotless kind of religious faith–that which is measured by compassionate love. Those without parents or husbands were and are an especially needy segment of the church. Since they are usually unable to reciprocate in any way, caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love.

This is not the world’s way. This is not our culture’s way. But this is God’s way. Thus, it is to be the Christian’s way. Christians are called to biblical thinking and living when it comes to adoption and orphan care {and all issues of life for that matter}. Adoption is to be more than plan B because it is more than plan B to God. While {obviously} God has not ordained that every Christian family adopt, his will is made more than clear in His word: ALL Christians are to be about caring for the least of these. This includes the orphan. There are many ways of participating in orphan care. For some, this means adopting orphans into their own family. For others it means financially supporting {or, if able, completely financing} adoptions for those who feel God’s leading to adopt a child but need help {Most couples don’t have an extra 20 to 30 thousand dollars lying around…this is where the Church comes in! This is what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus} For others, this may mean speaking and teaching and writing about the importance of adoption for Christians. Orphan care for some may mean getting an adoption ministry started at your church. Many Christians {as I did not so long ago} desperately need to have this biblical mandate taught and emphasized in the local church so that it is not overlooked and disobeyed.

God is clear. His children are to care for the fatherless. Christ is clear. We are to go into all the world and make disciples. This includes bringing fatherless children into a home where they will hear the Gospel of Christ taught. Through this, they will come to know not only an earthly father, but also {prayerfully} come to know their Heavenly Father through Christ.

Adoption is Gospel mission.

{My systematic theology professor [who is the Dean of the school of theology at Southern and was also our pastor for 3 years] has been influential in helping me to think about adoption biblically. He and his wife adopted two boys from Russia and he authored the book Adopted For Life relating the adoption of his boys to our adoption in Christ. His most recent blog post Pat Robertson vs. Spirit of Adoption is excellent—a must read!

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