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April 20, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

“Yet to all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

One of the greatest realities of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is that those who trust in Him are adopted into the family of God, becoming children of the Heavenly Father, full heirs of all that belongs to Him. At NewLife this past Sunday, I made the point that one of the greatest ways we can preach the gospel to the world is through following our Father’s example and becoming people and families who adopt others. There are certainly formal ways to do this, by adopting or fostering children who have been abused or neglected or have no parents, but there are many other ways to have an adoptive attitude towards the world. For example:

  • Treat your neighbor’s children, or your children’s friends, as family, making sure they know that when they are in your house, they are part of your family, welcome to eat your food, spend the night, or to come to you for advice, prayer, or a listening ear
  • Pay attention to people in church who are new to the area, especially those fresh out of college, away from their family and without friends in the area. Welcome them into your home and become their family away from their family
  • Look for young men and women who do not have fathers or mothers at home due to death or divorce, and be available to them
  • Be generous with your money and time and possessions towards the people in your life, just as you would be with your own family

One of the things that attracted me the most to my wife Michele when I first met her ten years ago was how the kids in her neighborhood were always going in and out of her home. I absolutely loved how she had welcomed these children into her life, and how much they enjoyed being around her. I knew that this was the kind of home I wanted as well, one where people would be treated as part of my family, whether they were a part of my life for a day, a week, or a year. I’m not where I would like to be, but that continues to be the goal towards which I strive.

Over the past year, our family began taking foster children into our home. While the experience is still new to us and we are constantly evaluating its impact on our lives, our hearts have been touched by the teenagers who have spent time in our home. As challenging as it has been at times, it has been remarkable to us how meaningful it can be to a young person who has experienced rejection and neglect his or her whole life to know that someone out there has chosen them and desires to call them family.

One of the most powerful books I have read on the issue of adoption is Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life. There are many books on adoption out there, as well as many books on the gospel, but this is perhaps the only one that successfully weaves both themes together in a way that shows how adoption by Christian families is a witness to the adoption available to all in the gospel. Moore and his wife adopted two boys as babies from an orphanage in Russia, and he shares in heart-wrenching detail what it was like for the children in that orphanage:

“Of all the disturbing aspects of the orphanage in which we found our boys, one stands out above all the others in its horror. It was quiet. The place was filled with an eerie silence, quieter than the Library of Congress, despite the fact that there were cribs full of babies in every room. If you listened intently enough, you could hear the sound of gentle rocking – as babies rocked themselves back and forth in their beds. They didn’t cry because no one responded to their cries. So they stopped. That’s dehumanizing in its horror.

The first moment I knew the boys received us, in some strange and preliminary way, was the moment we walked out of the room for the last time on that first trip. When little Maxim, now Benjamin, fell back in his crib and cried – the first time I ever heard him do it – it was because, for whatever reason, he seemed to think he’d be heard and, for whatever reason, he no longer liked the prospect of being alone in the dark.”

We worship a Father who, despite our rebellion against Him or indifference towards Him, gave up his very best in His Son Jesus in order to make us part of His family. As Jesus says in John 14:18 when he is telling His disciples that He will be sending them His Holy Spirit to be with them forever, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” This is the adoptive love of our Father. Take a moment to pray for those who are in need of that kind of love in their lives, and consider how you can respond to the Father’s adoptive love by doing the same for others who are in need.

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