Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Many apologies for not publishing a new post last week! Computer problems, funeral, Vacation Bible School planning–you know, the usual stuff. Enjoy! Ray
Last Monday I had the privilege to witness the official adoption of our friends’ new daughter. Since I had never experienced anything like it, I was curious to see how it all unfolded. Most of the work for the adoption had already been accomplished prior to last week: the home study, the matching, the trial period, etc. But there was still an official legal proceeding that took place in the county courtroom to make everything final and official. The judge came in and took her place on the bench; the sheriff guarded the door; the clerk busily kept track of everything that was going on. There was even a lawyer who presented evidence before the judge, arguing the family’s case and demonstrating that everything was in order: that the proper termination of parental rights had been certified, that the Health and Human Services Department approved of the placement, and so on.
There was a powerful moment at the climax of the hearing when the judge declared that the girl (who had previously been a ward of the state) was now officially a part of her new, adoptive family, and that our friends were now officially her parents, charged with the responsibilities and joys of raising her in their household. After 8+ years of being bounced around from foster home to foster home, this girl now had a permanent home with a loving mother and father. How blessed they are!
And it reminds me of a passage in the Bible about adoption. In the ancient Roman culture, it was important for families to have children–especially sons–to ensure the passage of property and wealth from one generation to the next. But if a couple was unable to produce children, there was a process in the Roman legal system where they could adopt a son and make him a permanent part of their family, appointing him the heir of all they had. (As with many other Roman legal customs, this serves as our own model in the United States today.)
The apostle Paul used this legal concept to illustrate how we become a part of God’s family. By default, we are estranged from our Maker. We are rebellious, sinful children who reject God’s lordship over us. By our fallen nature, we live only for ourselves. (See Romans 3:10-18!) But God, out of his inexhaustible love for us, has refused to let us slip away from him. He has claimed “sons” for his household, giving them the Spirit of adoption that convinces them inwardly that they are indeed adopted sons of God! “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16 HCSB). Through Jesus Christ, God has appointed us heirs of his household, set to share in Christ’s glorious inheritance.
We formerly were orphans, bouncing around from one “master” to another, looking for satisfaction and love. But now, when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we find our true home, our true Father, and our true Big Brother in God’s family. We can be assured that the Judge has sat on the bench and declared that we are truly sons of our Father, adopted by the Spirit. And we can look with anticipation for the inheritance that is waiting for us in the world to come. (See also Galatians 4:4-7.) How blessed we are!