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.

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BECOME THE POOR

Over the next few days I will post one of the best articles I have read on the Gospel and the poor (which has huge implications for orphan care and adoption).

I’m not sure where it came from or who wrote it originally but I just listened to a sermon by Tim Keller (Blessed are the Poor) and some of this material comes up in it. My guess is someone else may have adapted it from that sermon. Either way it is a must read

A Gospel Self-Image and the Poor

The Bible tells us the Gospel, if you get it, does three things to you with regard to the poor. The Gospel is an agent in us BECOMING THE POOR, LOVING THE POOR, AND KNOWING THE POOR. 

BECOME THE POOR 

When the Gospel comes to you, it replaces a middle-class spirit with the spirit of the poor. That means at least four things: 

1. Acknowledge That You Are Needy. The middle-class spirit says: “If I live a good life then I will have something of value to present to God. If I give to the poor, show mercy and do justice I can present something to God that he will value. I can do it.” But the Gospel says: “No one is good, no not one.” Even our good deeds are filthy rags. They stink of self-righteousness. Because they have been done to feel superior to others and to get leverage with God so that He owes us a good life. They have absolutely no value to God. 

2. Acknowledge That You Are Powerless. The middle class spirit says: “Okay, if I have failed I will just pick myself up and try harder. I will turn over a new leaf. I may be down but I am not out. l’ll double my effort. Never say never, think positive, visualize success-I can do it. I will do it'” But the Gospel says: “Not only are you spiritually bankrupt with nothing of value to present to God but you are totally incapable of reversing the situation.” It is like a drowning man trying to pull himself out by his own hair. No, it is worse. It is like a dead man trying to dig himself out of the grave. The Bible says: “You are spiritually dead. Totaliy powerless to do anything that would merit God’s approval. 

3. Everything you have is a gift from God. The gospel calls us to discard the “rights mentality” prevalent in our culture today. This mentality common among the middle-class says that you have rights–you have worked hard to earn you money and possessions and you have the right to a life of comfort and the leisure time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The gospel says that everything we have is a gift from our heavenly father and given to us as stewards. We give up all of our “rights.” 

4. Acknowledge That Your Only Hope Is A Poor Man. Trust in the King who became a poor man. He was born in a feed bin, in a cattle shed. At his dedication, his parents gave the smaiiest offering possible. He was raised in a poor family, in a poor community. All his life he was poor. “Faxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He entered Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, had his last meal in a borrowed room, and was buried in a borrowed grave. He died naked. He had little the world valued and the little he had was taken away. He was discarded, thrown away. And only because he did all that do you have any hope. Your only hope is a crucified poor man. If this offends you, you are middle class in spirit and you cannot be saved. You must become the poor.

Part 2 tommorrow…

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)