Stories of adoption wrench the emotions of the human heart. But what about spiritual adoption?
There is a disconnect for many Christians between the earthly orphan being brought into a new family and the spiritual orphan being brought into God’s family. Let me share a few things to help close that gap and tune your heart to something that every believer in Christ should feel very deeply about.
Every Human is Born an Orphan
As far as I can see, the only humans to ever begin life with the perfect love of a Father were Adam and Eve. But as soon as sin entered the world that, too, was over. At the fall of mankind Adam and Eve lost everything. Everything that mattered anyway. Their rebellion against the perfect Fatherly care of God cost them their rights of being His children and heirs. They were orphans. Now every human, including you, comes into this world in that state; severed from God, sinful, lost and Fatherless. The only hope of changing this status is if the Father, Himself, does something about it.
Seeing the Synonyms
The Bible draws a clear parallel between the spiritually orphaned and the spiritually dead. When you read in Colossians 2:13, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses”, you can appropriately replace the word dead with orphans. The full counsel of the New Testament teaching allows for this. “And you, who were orphaned in your trespasses…” This is exactly right. The sin we are all born with is the very thing that makes us orphans. Our inherited rebellion against God is like a chain that binds us to the lonely crib of the orphanage until someone comes to rescue us.
Ephesians 2:3 “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Seeing the connection the Bible makes between being saved and being adopted is necessary for understanding the full picture of our redemption in Christ. Consider the Colossians passage once more. “And you, who were orphaned in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God adopted, having forgiven all our trespasses.” The Spiritually orphaned; the desperately depraved human condition that we all are born with is remedied by a loving God who steps into the dark orphanage of the world to adopt us as His own sons and daughters. This means that to be saved is far more than choosing a religious path. It’s more than going to Church, changing our behavior and getting new desires. It means that we, having never before known the love of a Father, have been brought into His perfect care through grace and adopting love. Picture your salvation this way and it will change you forever.
Ephesians 1:5 “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
The Father’s Pursuit
One of the beauties seen in earthly adoption is the work of the parents; the long hours, the flights, the expenses, the paperwork, the tears and even the pain that goes into the process long before the child knows he or she is being pursued; long before he or she knows there is a family out there that loves her like no one else can. It’s a wonderful picture of God’s grace towards us. Before we were born; before we ever knew our own state of emptiness and our need for a Savior, we were chosen in love for adoption as sons and daughters. God determined to save us out of darkness to the praise of His glorious grace according to His purposes.
Children in the orphanages and foster care systems of our world are not given the option to choose their parents. They are at the mercy of the system, or so it seems anyway. They are at the mercy of those whom God has given the authority to decide. Sometimes the decision is in the hands of the birth-parents, but never is it in the hands of the Child. In addition to this, orphans are not adopted based on their qualifications or qualities. Or at least they shouldn’t be. When parents are considering adoption they have to decide between domestic or international, private or agency adoption, so as to find the process that best fits their current situation. To not think over this process carefully in our world would be bad stewardship and foolish. But none of these decisions are for the purpose of finding the BEST child, as if the one in the Ugandan orphanage is somehow better than the one in Montana; or as if this ethnicity is better than that. The truth is, parents don’t adopt for what the child has to offer them, but for what they have to offer the child, a life of love, provision and inheritance. It’s about grace being poured out onto a helpless situation; bringing change to a deeply valued life; one that this sinful world has trampled under its feet.
Closing the Gap
We need to close the gap between our understanding and value of our salvation in Christ and our value and involvement with adoption and orphans in this world. Connect the love that you know in Christ today with the love of an adopting Father that saw you in your orphaned state and did something about it when you couldn’t.
“God has vouchsafed, that in Christ, His only Son, and for His sake, all those who are justified shall be made partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number of the children of God and enjoy their liberties and privileges. They have His name put upon them, and receive the Spirit of adoption. They have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ They are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a father, yet they are never cast off, but are sealed to the day of redemption, when they inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.” – 1689 London Baptist Confession