We recently had a great discussion here on the blog as we asked, ‘Who Are The Orphans & Widows in Katy, TX?’ That discussion sprung from James 1:27 which says, ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…’ In another recent post ‘Is Theology Going to Change My Marriage?’ we talked through the gospel transformation that follows looking deeply into the person and work of God… and how that applies to everything in our lives.
In my own journey the idea of orphans felt fairly removed from me. It was not a regular topic of discussion amidst the culture of my formative years. I had read passages like the one in James many times but it did not really come to life for me for a very long time. I am not proud of that reality but I want to be honest with you about how my journey progressed.
In about 2001 God brought someone into my path who really began to teach me theology. In other words, he began teaching me the Bible and through those words we dove deeply into the character, nature, and work of our God. Through that journey I began seeing the heart of God in the book of Ephesians in a manner that really changed me. I saw the heart and nature of God in an entirely new way through these words, ‘In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved’ (Eph 1:5-6).
It was at that point that I began to see that I, myself, had been an orphan. The searching and lostness of the spiritual wondering had a context that was new in my heart. I deserved to be an orphan. My life warranted nothing more than the purposeless wandering that my sin had chosen. In spite of all of the circumstances that surrounded my life, God put His nature on display through adopting me as His child through His gracious gift of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is a work of adoption. He chose me and yet I know that I have done nothing and will never do anything that deserves that choice. Adoption is the manner in which God pulled us out of hopeless circumstances and reconciled us into the eternal joy of being His child forever. The love of God is demonstrated through His act of adoption.
On this journey I began asking myself if there could be any greater display of God’s love here on this earth than walking in the example of adoption that He has laid before us? Out of all the means and strategies that an all-powerful and all-knowing God could choose to display His character and love, He chose adoption. Therefore, how could there be any greater display of His love amidst our world today than our participation in the act that reconciled us into the family of our eternal Father? The way I read the Bible and the way I understood passages like James 1:27 began to change. The way I felt and thought about orphans began to radically change. The way I looked at my own personal calling and daily obedience to God began to change. God, through the power of His Word, was burdening my heart in an undeniable way.
The way I love my wife and parent my children has been radically transformed because of God’s work of adoption. Through understanding what God has done for me is what wrecked my heart for the orphans around the world today. Today when I think about adoption and the heart-breaking number of orphans around the globe, I see the opportunity to love in communion with the nature and work of our Almighty God. Today I see adoption as the heart of God alive and manifest in the Heart of man for the display of His grace amidst our hurting world.
I believe all of us have been called to participate in God’s heart for adoption. Would you be willing to pray boldly for God to speak to your heart about how he has uniquely gifted and called you to adoption? Maybe it is a commitment to prayer, or financial support, or active partnership with those around you who are actively adoption? Or, maybe He is calling you to begin to explore what it might look like for your home to begin the journey of adopting an orphan into your family? There are so many ways to walk in this great gift and my prayer is simply that you might ask God what that means for your home.