Adoption

Dad and childMy parents married in the mid/late 1950’s, and by the mid 1960’s were ready to have children. For several reasons they decided not to bear children, but to adopt them. They applied through an adoption agency, and they began their wait. In 1968, in the first week of October, my parents received a call that a baby boy had been born and placed into the system. He was sick, but would be ready to take home in a matter of days. In the third week of October, my parents picked up that boy and brought him home; yours truly. I was still sick, weighing in at only 4 lbs 11 oz, (I’ve made up for it since then). I grew up, not speaking a word until age 3, and not even a short sentence until age 5, (I’ve also made up for that since then). My parents added two siblings, both adopted, two and five years later. They always told us we were adopted, and we had an upbringing in a healthy Christian home. Our adoptions were all ‘closed’, meaning that without the state (and two willing parties) that no one could gain access to our birth parents records (or mine); and I had no need or desire to look for them. My parents were the ones who raised me (they were all I knew).

Fast-forward through forty-two years of history, a couple of trials, countless encounters with consequence, many jobs, and several years here at Highland. That brings us to late March of this year. Late in the afternoon on a Sunday, I got a cryptic email from a man I didn’t know on Facebook. I brought up his profile, and with his picture on the screen, Justina walked by the computer and said, “That man is your brother; no question”. Soon after, I got a call from a pastor in California and he asked questions about my birthdate, where I was born, and so on. I asked him what he was getting at, and he said, “I think I am sitting next to your birth mother, and she’d like to talk to you. Can she call you right back”? Five minutes later – after 42 years – I was speaking with the woman who gave me life, and then – in what must have been a heart-wrenching, almost impossible decision – gave me up to someone better prepared to raise me. Long story short, my family and I will have the incredible privilege of meeting my half-brother, his wife, and birth mother face-to-face when they visit our home in late May for a few days!

So, what does my life story have to do with anything? Well, today I am writing about other people who have been adopted; and what that adoption looks like. I don’t mean Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, James Michner, Edgar Allan Poe, Malcolm X, Moses or even Jesus (all of whom were adopted), I mean each one of us that are ‘Christians’. Each of us have been adopted by God, as sons, into His family. Galatians 4:1-7 reads

“What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir”.

The word adoption (huiothesia) means “to make, a son”. It defines a legal transition of rights and responsibilities from one parent to another. Adoption was common to the Romans, though it was very expensive and formal. Romans of high standing often adopted sons to carry on the family line. In fact, in the first 200 years of Roman society, seven of the ten emperors inherited their positions through adoption. An important note in Roman law is that if a slave were adopted (only the free could adopt), the slave was made free through that adoption and inherited the rights of a son. In Roman law, sons that were adopted could not subsequently be “given back”. All of these intricacies were understood by Paul, as evidenced by his use of these specific words; and these words would have been well understood by his audience. We have been adopted by God, from our father Satan, given the rights and standing of a free person in His kingdom, as contrasted to our bondage and slavery to the law before that time; and it was expensive. It cost the life of God Himself on the cross, in the form of His Son, Our Saviour.

So, what does adoption require of the adopted? First, it requires that we build a relationship with our new Father. Clearly demonstrated in the cry “Abba, Father”, the joyous cry of a 1st Century son, running into his father’s arms as Dad returns from a long trip. “Abba”, means “Daddy”! That open, joyous, warm and welcoming relationship that Christ came to demonstrate. “Father”, has the connotation of an elder that teaches, trains, and cares. Secondly, it requires that we develop faith in our new Father, trusting Him to guide, train, and to provide.. Romans 8:31-32 says,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”.

Finally, adoption requires that we learn to trust in our standing, to truly believe that we are part of the family. John 1:12 says,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God..”

As I close this note, what does this adoption mean? First, it means that we are no longer slaves to the law. The curtain that kept us from an Almighty God has been ripped in two, and we have a personal and direct relationship with Him (Gal 3: 24-25). Second, it means that we are His sons (Gal 4:6), with an attendant desire to act like one. Finally, now that we’re sons, and moved from the law into grace (and are living with our new Dad), we are heirs of God. We inherit what God has! First His Spirit dwells in us, and finally, we will inherit perfect bodies, with eternal life.

Men, the deposit of the Spirit shows us that we are sons of God, heirs of the eternal kingdom of our Father. I challenge us: do not be faithless and ignorant, learn to walk as brothers of Christ, in the family of God. Dare to walk as sons!

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 10:16 and is filed under Faith, Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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