June 16, 2008
Our Father, Who art in
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:
For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. Mt 12: 50
This Father’s Day weekend was a special one for friends of our family. Just days before, they received the call all prospective adoptive parents dream of: a mother had chosen them to be the parents of her child. I can only imagine the mix of emotions that came with that call -- not only for this young couple taking on the joys and trials of parenthood but also the mother making this difficult sacrifice out of love for her child
While some don’t fully appreciate the nature of adoption – some cultures even see it as taboo, preferring the orphanage system – I am always a bit fascinated with hearing the perspective of those who became parents through the adoption process. It seems adoptive parents almost unanimously express the feeling that this child is their very own. Just as God doesn’t make mistakes in giving a certain biological child to parents, many adoptive parents express the belief that God created their adopted child especially for their family, too.
Even if parenthood by adoption may be hard to grasp for those who’ve never experienced it, adoption should make sense to Christians because it offers one of the clearest pictures of the Gospel in our fallen world.
I’ve always marveled a bit at the fact that family is central to Scripture from the very beginning. God Himself exists as the first Family: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, He clearly created us to enjoy the intimacy of family life with Him and with each other. But our first parents, Adam and Eve, instead became prodigals as they broke away from God’s plans for family life to forge their own way.
After centuries of sin and struggle, a noteworthy adoptive father arrives on the scene. A devout Jewish man faces an unbelievable situation: the holy woman he loves is pregnant and claims she is carrying God’s Son. It takes a divinely-inspired dream for him to accept this news (understandably so), but then he throws himself into the task of being a model father, risking life and limb to protect his wife and son. Thanks to Joseph’s fatherly commitment, Jesus goes on to bridge the chasm sin caused so long ago.
Joseph isn’t the only adoptive parent worth mentioning, though. Thanks to the Father’s willingness to give up His Son – not unlike the sacrifice a biological mother experiences when surrendering her child for adoption - you and I now are adopted sons and daughters of God, with the privilege of calling the Father, our Father.
There is one difference between earthly adoption and adoption into the Divine Family, though – a difference I recently stumbled across in a book a Benedictine monk named Columba Marmion wrote called Christ, the Life of the Soul. Marmion, whose beautiful writings on the subject earned him the title “Doctor of Divine Adoption," explained that while earthly adoption unites a family in every way except biology, divine adoption goes even deeper. That’s because while our family relationships are natural, God is supernatural. Adoption in Christ transforms our souls – and at the end of time, our bodies, too - so that we truly become God’s children, heirs of His kingdom and sharers in eternal life with the Holy Trinity.
I think it’s easy to forget this last part. So often, I
identify more with the prodigal daughter or the lost orphan than the privileged
daughter loved by the Heavenly Father. I focus more on a past filled with the
brokenness of divorce, the wrongs I’ve committed, or the wrongs my Christian siblings have committed than the peace that can be found in acknowledging and living as God's beloved child.
The good news is that, bit by bit, God helps us acclimate to our new family, our new identity in Him. Just as a loving parent would never dream of abandoning their child, God promises us He will never leave us as orphans. And even those who never knew a loving family in this life have a “forever home” to look forward to in eternity.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Our Deacon likes to refer to the earthly family, through biology or adoption, as God’s “school of love” or the “domestic church” because family life prepares us for eternal life with the Father and our brothers and sisters in Christ. This week, strive to do two things: change one thing, even if it’s small, in your family routine that will contribute to each family member’s growth in Christ. And, contribute one thing – even if it’s just pocket change – towards a crisis pregnancy center or adoption ministry to help a child find a forever home that will lead them forever Home.