Adopting Jesus

8325~Holy-Family-and-Jesus-PostersJesus said many profound and life-changing things in his life as recorded in Scripture. What he says in Matthew 25:31-46 for me is becoming for me one of the most life-altering and mind-blowing.

Jesus gives us an awesome picture of the great Day of Judgment when He will appear in all his glory with all the angels with all people who have ever lived gathered before him. (To give some perspective, as of 2002 one guesstimate is that would be about 106,456,367,669 people gathered).

It is in this moment that Jesus says he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. The sheep will enter the kingdom of heaven and the goats the fires of hell.

The sheep are those who cared for the poor and needy.
The goats neglected to care for the poor and needy.

What makes this profound for me is Jesus explanation of this. He says to the sheep,

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (25:35-40)

To the goats:

“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (25:42-45)

So, what we do for the “least of these” – the poor, the hungry, the needy, the strangers, the sick, we do to Jesus. The extent to which we neglect the needy, we neglect Jesus Himself. This causes me to pause. To worship and be amazed that we have the opportunity to touch and minister and serve Jesus. It also causes me to repent for where I have walked by, ignored, and left Jesus starving, naked and alone.

I believe the fatherless are included in “the least of these.” In fact, I think the fatherless of our world might just be the very least of all as they are the most dependant of anyone for food, drink, clothing, love, medical care. The very things a family provides and the very thing they are without. Therefore, according to Jesus every time we adopt an orphan we are “welcoming a stranger” but more than that we are “adopting Jesus.” Every time a church encourages a family in their adoption they are taking part in “adopting Jesus.”  I have just begun to see adoption in this way and it changes everything! In adoption, there is a sense in which we are Christ to the orphan but amazingly the orphan is Christ to us. In the end, the way we treat the poor and needy and orphans of our world tells us something of our relationship with Jesus, and our eternal destiny. It is an act of worship or judgment.

Adoption in God’s Story: Fall

God created man and woman to live as a family. Together with one another. And together in His presence. It was a good setup. Unfortunately, in the fall we are introduced to sin and death and the brokenness of relationship with God, the family, one another, and the creation.

We see this breakdown in the story of Cain and Abel. Almost immediately after the fall the first family experiences brokenness that few of us have experienced. Jealousy. Envy. Deceit. Murder.

That was only the beginning of what was to follow. Families are not only broken by the sinful actions of man and peoples but by disease, natural disasters, death.

Take Uganda for example.

Decades of war. Thousands of children abducted by the LRA. The HIV/AIDS pandemic. Severe hunger and poverty. 2.3 million orphans left fatherless (more than any other nation in the world today).

We know in our souls this is not right. The need for gospel-justice is more apparent than ever before. The fatherless need a father. When it comes to the orphan crisis caused by the fall, God’s response is to “place the lonely in families” (Ps 68:6-7). Will that be our response?

The need for adoption is both a result of the fall and a way to bring healing to the broken lives of orphans here in the US and around the world. As we provide families for the fatherless through adoption we reflect God’s glory and we restore what was broken. In this, we find some of life’s sweetest rewards and treasures.

Read Part 1: Adoption in God’s Story: Creation

Adoption in God’s Story: Creation

Everything God does, He does for the absolute display of His glory. Our part is to see that glory, savor it, and share it with the world! With that foundation, I want to look briefly at how adoption fits within God’s global purposes and what that means for us.

Adoption and Creation

Adoption points us to the fact that God created man and woman to live in family. We see this highlighted first in the fact that God created Adam and Eve to live as family. There was no other option. Further, in Psalm 68:5-6 we see God’s heart for the family: “Father of the fatherless is God in His holy habitation…he places the solitary in families.” God does not want anyone to be without a family.  And, as we ourselves care for the fatherless through adoption we reflect His glory, His fatherly care, His family-building passion. We in effect, put on display in this world the very nature of God Himself and the world sees in the flesh the father-heart of God.

Undergirding all this, Ephesians 1:4-5 says, before the “foundation of the world” God the Father “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Amazingly, even before God created the earth and mankind, He marked us out for the great privilege of being His children through adoption! Adoption was not a divine afterthought. It was in His mind and purposes before the start of human history.

All this points to the fact that, in creating the world, God intended to build families that would ultimately reflect the family of the Trinity (I won’t go into that here but if you want to look at something that will blow your mind that is a good place to start!). Pre-creation, adoption was God’s plan to build His own spiritual family and His plan for providing healing for broken earthly families. He does not intend for anyone physically or spiritually to be without family; and His pursuit of that is central to His pursuit of the display of His glory and our delight Himself.

Today, delight in His adopting-family-building-fatherly glory! Go and put that glory on display as you make our glorious Father known to the world. And let’s do we can to reflect His glory through our own adoption and care of the fatherless! 

‘Adoption Turned our Family Upside Down’

Jeremy Haskins, who just today became an adoptive dad to two boys in Ethiopia, and a pastor at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, has a must read post on how adoption has turned his family’s life upside down and how the Gospel calls all of us to live upside down in some way –

The message of the Bible is about a King who is flipping the work of Satan on its head.  He is redeeming a world that has been turned upside down through the invasion of sin and death.   When we believe this message we become a part of a Kingdom whose power is actively confronting all that is ungodly in the world. This includes the reality of children who have been abandoned…

Maybe God is calling you to do something radical for Jesus.  For us it is adoption.  It may be the same for you.  It may mean giving more so others can adopt.  It may be becoming a committed advocate for orphans and orphan care around the world.   It may mean something all together different for you and your family.  However, for all Christ-followers the gravity of the gospel is pulling you to live upside down in some way that turns the wisdom of the world on its head.  May it be said of us this year and for eternity, these are they who turned the world upside down.

Read the whole post here. It will be worth your time.

For His Joy

In light of Maunday Thursday and Easter weekend I spent some time meditating on this verse:

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

It was joy that enabled Jesus to endure the events that we will remember this weekend. Jesus died the death that we deserved to die so that we might live the life only he deserved to live. For that He went through excruciating pain and agony. The goal and motivation that sustained Him was joy; the joy of returning to the Father and the glory of what His death and resurrection accomplished – my redemption, your redemption, and the redemption of all things!

We too have the great joy set before us of one day having our faith and holiness perfected in whole, the kingdom fully come, and the infinite joy of spending eternity in Jesus presence!