Adoption is popular among Conservative, Reformed individuals and churches, and rightly so. The need is great, and Scripture is clear that as Christians we should be involved in some way in the care for marginalized people in our community: orphans, widows, and strangers.
These three groups are linked throughout Scripture (Exodus 22; Deuteronomy 10, 14, 16, 24, 26, 27; Job 22, 24, 29, 31; Psalm 68, 94, 109, 146; Isaiah 1, 9, 10; Jeremiah 7, 22, 49; Ezekiel 22; Zechariah 7; Malachi 3; James 1) and deserve our efforts of love and care, if we are to be faithful and obedient to God. These groups tended to suffer as victims of some aspect of life outside of their control: abandoned because of death, desertion, war, or abuse. The child did not choose their parent; the spouse did not choose the day of death; the stranger did not choose their nationality. They were victims of circumstances.
As God’s creation, we the people of earth can rightly be called God’s children. Yet, unlike our victims above, we chose to rebel against God and abandon our home with him. In Adam, all have sinned (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22). We have gone our own way and like the prodigal, we willingly left our caring and loving Father (Luke 15).
What did our rebellion bring us? Not a victimized status of abandonment. Truly, we are abandoned, but by God as the Righteous Judge who justly must condemn our sin. We were not the victims, not orphans in that sense, not widows in truth, and not strangers by nature. Rather we became rebels by choice. We chose our family and nationality: Satan’s family, sin’s family, and citizens of the kingdom of darkness.
Notice how Scripture, in just a few passages, describes those who are not part of God’s family:
The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
This means that God did not rescue us from being “victims of some aspect of life outside of their control” as marginalized people. No, God rescued from the life we chose, from the family we desired to live in, from the home we willingly stayed in, and the lifestyle we actively pursued.
God adopts the children raised in a liar’s home. Children who wanted and enjoyed a liar’s home and who were willing participants in lies and deceit.
God adopts the children raised in an abuser’s home. Children who wanted and enjoyed an abuser’s home and who were willing participants in abusing others.
God adopts the children raised in a murderer’s home. Children who wanted and enjoyed a murderer’s home and who were willing participants in murder.
We are not just the victims of sin; we are the victimizers of sinful acts against God and others—committing the heinous acts that repulse a holy God. We are a sin-soaked, Father-betraying, truth-hating, Son-killing people. We are this by choice and by desire (Romans 3:9-12; 8:7; James 1:13-15) from our very birth (Psalm 58:3). Sinners, not innocent victims.
But God’s grace was overwhelmingly greater. Greater than caring for the victimized and marginalized, His grace reached out to the rebellious children of his enemy. Those who were God’s children by creation, yet Satan’s children by choice, now are made God’s children through purchase, through redemption, and through adoption—out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his Son.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
If God can show an overwhelmingly greater grace to enemies, surely his children should be able to show grace to the victimized and marginalized—and our enemies too.
How can God’s children show grace?
If we know God commands, we should obey them. We should attempt to apply what we know in our daily life.
Sponsor a child:
My family uses Covenant Mercies. We sponsor a fatherless child, whose mother is widowed, and who lives in a country estranged from God’s Word.
Sponsoring a child often allows us to apply ourselves in obedience to care for the three victimized and marginalized categories listed in Scripture.
Give for Gastoni:
If you are not able to sponsor a child yourself, willingly participate in Gospel Life Church’s sponsorship. You can even write him a letter.
Give to Benevolence:
The benevolence fund at Gospel Life Church often helps widows and those estranged from the gospel.
Give to Gospel Life Church:
Some of our funds are used to reach people in countries estranged to the gospel. Our church would love to increase our efforts in these areas as our giving increases.
Open your home:
Let the victimized and marginalized share your family, especially during holidays. Give the fatherless, or widow, or foreigner a place to feel wanted and loved.
Operation Christmas Child:
Many boxes go to the fatherless, many to children of widows, most to foreign countries estranged from gospel influence. Make one box, or make four. Many of us could easily afford more than one.
Why not excel at obedience?
Why not warm the heart of our overly gracious Father in heaven by being His clear representation on earth?
Why not show how great the Father’s love has affected us, how great the Son’s gift has changed us, how great the Spirit’s presence has empowered us?
James 1:22, 27 (ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Join me in showing just a sliver of the overwhelmingly greater grace of God.