By Mark Tetley
Recently, two families I know adopted children. One was domestic and the other was international. As in all adoptions, it was a very long process that culminated in a time of joy and celebration. Most often when the adoption occurs only the parents understand the full force of what has happened. The adopted child gains all the legal rights of any child in their adoptive family. Their old life is left behind. The connection to the biological family is legally terminated. Even if the child is aware that the process was taking place, they can’t grasp everything that goes into it. In time they will come to realize the impact of that day had on the rest of their life. They now have a family who will provide for them, a family who will love them for the rest of their lives, a family who will invest in their growth and maturity, a family who will sacrifice for them, a family who will give them their name. They now have a family of their own.
In last week’s post in light of Father’s Day, I wrote about God being our Father (read that HERE). Today, I want to look at a beautiful metaphor that the Bible uses to describe how the relationship between believers and God is established. It is the picture of an adoption. One of the places it is used is in Romans 8:15-17, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ . . . ”
When the writers of the New Testament chose the image of adoption, they meant to convey many of the same elements that occur when a child is adopted today. A person is transferred from one family to another (Galatians 4:3-7). This transfer required a sacrifice to complete it, which came as Jesus Christ gave Himself on the cross (Revelation 5:9). The adopted person receives all the privileges as a child of God and is now a part of God’s family for all eternity (1 Peter 1:3-4).
In a physical adoption after all the paperwork is filled, fees are paid, and interviews are completed and the adoption is finalized the happiest people in the room are usually the new parents. Why would this be when they have just taken on so much responsibility? There is only one reason: LOVE. They know that there will be struggles as they assume responsibility for this new life, but those struggles will give them more opportunities to demonstrate their love. The Bible says that there is rejoicing in heaven when a spiritual adoption is completed (Luke 15:7). I have to think it is for the same reason: LOVE.
As the child gains an understanding of the way that they were specifically chosen by their adoptive parents they gain a sense of worth, self-respect, and love. In turn, they can develop a love for their adoptive parents that is stronger than a love for biological parents.
Part of the reason I started this blog is so people would love God. It saddens me to see people talking selfishly of God’s love for them. Often they talk about the great and wonderful things that God has given them without turning anything around to give thanks or devotion to God. They come across like the spoiled rich kid who has more than they could ever use but still expects more from life.
1 John 3:1 says, ” See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” I believe that we don’t start loving God until we realize all that He has done for us. If you are a believer, take some time and reflect on all that God did to bring to make you His child. Then think about how your life reflects love back to Him.
- Galatians 4:3-7 – In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
- Revelation 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
- 1 Peter 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
- Luke 15:7 – Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.