Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday – a chance for churches to care about the plight of the fatherless. The issue is big, complicated, heart-breaking and – like most of life, if not all of life – deeply theological. As I’ve spent this week studying, some thoughts come to my mind that I hope to expound on tomorrow:
1) God’s mandate to care – God pronounced judgement on Israel often includes an indictment against their lack of care for the poor, alien, widows and orphan. God ties how the harvest is reaped to the care of the same group. God demands a national tithe for the care of the same group. God identifies himself as the defender of the same group. Needless to say, God cares about this group – a group that includes the fatherless. I’m a bit overwhelmed by how blantantly God ties the reality of faith to the care of the same group!!
2) Adoption is not for everyone – That much should be said. Many of you know we are in the process of adoption a girl from China. This was God’s call on our lives after 16 years of talking and being open to it. For some, it may be 16 years before their call comes, or 16 months, or perhaps never. Adoption is only one of the ways care is demonstrated.
3) The spectrum is wide – Adoption, foster, extended family care, supporting single mothers, be a big brother, respite care. Care for the fatherless is practical care. Many ways to do it.
4) Related to #3, care for the fatherless is for everyone – This is a call not just on families able to add a member. This is for every Christian. A mandate. Care. How many reports have I read on the disaster of a fatherless home in America? Too many. How many of those reports included a side note of the positive impact of churches and Christians stepping into the gap? None that I can remember. How things might change if we who know the Fatherhood of God would take time to reflect that to those that need a father – take a kid out to a ball game, ice cream, send a note of encouragement, tutor, send a gift card on their birthday or Christmas. How many William Wilburforce’s would be unleashed in this world if a few John Newton’s stepped in with a little bit of love.
6) Related to #3 again, this ministry (http://www.projecthopeful.org/mom-sponsorships-hope) and this video about the ministry stirs my heart:
5) Adoption is so theologically and lovingly rich in the bible – Adoption in this life is of course a matter of reflecting what is true in the bible. Five times Paul uses that word “heuiotheisa” (Greek for Adoption) and each time it covers some aspect of redemptive history, with two of them pointing back to the ultimate apex of redemption – to know God as father and to say as Jesus did “Abba” (Eph 1:4-5; Romans 8:15-16, 22-23; Romans 9:4; Gal 4:4-6)
6) Adoption brings out the full warmth of the doctrines of grace –
Ephesians 1:4–6 (ESV) — In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
All the joy, all the warmth, all the tremendous heart filling thoughts that surround adoption – God adopting us rebels into his family and being our father, is founded upon his purpose of predestination. This is one reason the doctrines of grace matter – it’s about the impossible relationhip with God being made possible through the eternal relentless pursuit of God’s love.
Oh that God might grant us hearts to care about the things that He cares about.