Adoption and the City

adoptioncityOften when we think of adoption we think of a young couple growing their family. Once the child is adopted the couple’s dreams of “having a family” are fulfilled and we rejoice that they are enabled through adoption to “be fruitful and multiply” and glorify God.

This is a good thing, yet there is much more to adoption. For one, there is the child that is being given a new family. And with that, a transformation.

First, there is a transformation in the life of the child and the parents whose lives will never be the same.

Secondly, there is a transformation in the church community as adoption is experienced by members of the community and a new child is welcomed into the church family.

And, there is a transformation in society as a child is saved from the cycle of poverty that so often has them in their grip.

Given this third transformation, we would be wise when we think of adoption to think of the city.

In one of the most popular chapters of the Bible, Jeremiah 29, we find a powerful statement from the Lord about how we ought to view the city. Speaking to His people who have been exiled by the Babylonians and in fear of mixing with them, God says through His prophet:

“Multiply there (in the city), and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the lord on it’s behalf, for in it’s welfare you will find your welfare ” Jeremiah 29:6-7

We see in this passage that:

1. We are called as Christians to a paradoxical kind of life as both those whose home is not in this world and those who make their home in the city of this world.

2. We are to mulitply in the city. We are not to be afraid of having children who will grow up as exiles in a hostile world. God says emphatically “do not decrease” because as we will see, His purpose is for us to influence our city for good.

4. We are to seek the welfare of the city. Literally he says seek the “shalom” or the “the peace” of the city. This means that we are to work towards the rebuilding and flourishing of the things that are broken socially, physically, and spiritually.

5. We are to work for the success, growth, and welfare of our city because when our city thrives we will thrive.

When we think about seeking the “welfare of our city” there is much we can do. The needs are many. Amidst it all, the need of caring for the orphans of the city is great. In any given metropolis in America there are literally hundreds of children that have no family and no permanent home. Over half a million children in America are in foster care. Over 129,000 children are literal orphans with no permanent family.

Imagine if the church took seriously this call to “seek the welfare of the city” and made caring for every child in foster care and every child available for adoption a part of that mission. What if the church became more known for its care of the children than for its political stance against abortion.

Tim Keller has said that the church is called to be an alternative city within the city – a city that reflects the heavenly city and it’s values while seeking the success of the earthly city. The church as a “city within the city” has the divine calling and divine resources to be on the forefront of bringing compassion to the orphans and foster children of the city. There is no one on this planet other than the Christ-filled Church that has the power to truly live in this way.

Does the city in which you live and worship in look at your church community and see a people who are passionate about the welfare of the city? Do they see a community caring for the orphans of the city and making this city a place where no orphans are without a loving home.

Imagine what that would mean for the ‘shalom’ of the city at large, the transformation of the children, the impact on culture, and the blessing the church would experience to the glory of God!

At the very least, this would provide for the watching city a powerful picture of the Gospel; the good news that tells us of a God who is more passionate than anyone to save a people and adopt them as his very own children.

Shalom and Justice

Two words. Two definitions that will change the world.

What is ‘shalom’?

“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a ceasefire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes creatures in whom He delights. Shalom, in other words, is the ways things ought to be.” (Cornelius Plantinga, NOT the Way It’s Supposed to Be, p. 10)

What is ‘justice’? 

“Justice and shalom are closely linked. Doing justice is repairing shalom where it’s been broken. Justice is shalom and doing justice is repairing the fabric where it’s breaking apart. IT’s going to places where the fabric is weak and reweaving the fabric where it’s broken.” (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, from Doing Justice)