Centrality of Adoption for Christians
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans . . . .” James 1:27.
This verse has meant so much to me personally. It is one of the verses in the Bible which has made me realize that orphans are a priority to God and that adoption is not second-best/last resort/only for the infertile, but is God’s first-choice, one of His highest priorities, and meant for the Body of Christ to demonstrate the ultimate picture of His love for us. I’d like to share a little more Scripture with you which demonstrate why adoption is so vital to the Body of Christ. I’m certain that I have just barely uncovered what God has to say on the subject, but I hope this will be meaningful to you.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling, God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:5,6a) He does not set the lonely in institutions, in orphanages, in schools, in refrigerator photos or in prayer lists. All of those things are important and have their role in the process, but God sets the lonely in families. My children grieve and pray for other children who are left in orphanages, that they may each have a family of their own. Having been adopted myself, with two adopted children, I cannot fathom living the life of an orphan in an orphanage, without a mother and a father — no matter how much of a Christian education they may be receiving. My heart not only goes out to them, but I feel I must advocate for them.
Romans 8:15 says that we won’t be slaves again to fear because we have “received a spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’” In Isaiah 66:13, we are told, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 promises, “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” There is something very special about being able to be called a son or a daughter, which, for an orphan, comes only through adoption. “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:5,6)
In Galatians chapters 3 and 4, Paul speaks about what this adoption is really all about and what it means to be called “sons of God” (3:26), to “receive the full rights of sons” (4:5), and again, being able to call out, “Abba, Father” (4:6). When you are adopted with the full rights of a son, “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (4:7) Being adopted through Christ has meant that “we are God’s children. Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:16, 17) Throughout the Bible, you will find that there is great significance in being an heir and being eligible to receive an inheritance. It’s the difference between being a “legitimate” child or the child of a slave. “(T)he slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” (Galatians 4:30) When we adopt, we are telling our children, “All we have is yours. You are our child forever, you belong to this family. God has a plan for you, He loves you and He set you in our family.” Our adopted children’s chores and responsibilities are not as slaves, but as members of a family and they will reap the benefits of our collective labor with the right of inheritance. They are not just earning their keep when they do their chores, as it is with a slave. And they can cry out “Daddy!” and “Mommy!” when they desperately need us.
In Romans, Paul goes on to talk about the freedom involved in being God’s children (8:21). He relates the pains of childbirth with that of waiting for adoption: “(we) groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (8:23, 24) The Bible sure makes adoption sound glorious! But how are orphans who have neither a mother nor a father to relate to these verses when they are given no hope for adoption? Instead, they are still in the pains of illegitimacy, without the full rights of adoption as sons and daughters, aliens in a foreign household and slaves to the master of the house. If the Body of Christ were truly mobilized according to James 1:27, there would be a family available for every orphan in this world and all of the funding for it would be available. There may still be societal reasons that orphans may still exist (being able to identify them and get them off of the streets, terminating parental rights, governments which obstruct adoptions, etc.). But Christian families who are unwilling to adopt and churches which are unwilling to actively promote adoption should not be part of the reason why there are still orphans.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Why would Jesus say such a thing? Clearly, it’s because there is something awful about leaving children as orphans. It’s the ultimate abandonment. He also said, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5) And the Psalmist wrote: “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (27:10) The Body of Christ is to welcome these abandoned children, to receive them into our families and to definitely not leave them as orphans. When you study the totality of Scripture on this subject, you can see that this is the fulfillment of James 1:27. Isaiah writes that we are to “Defend the cause of the fatherless.” (Isaiah 1:17) That is the responsibility of the Church. “(F)or in you the fatherless find compassion.” (Hosea 14:3b) We are to do His work.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” If this is true, then shouldn’t looking after orphans and widows be an integral part of every church’s mission statement, and more importantly,
shouldn’t it be reflected in what we do?
For the orphans,