Adoption: A choice or a command?

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Evangelism, Life, love, Me and God, Me and people, Parenting, The Bible, The Church

I am living what I would call a major theological shift. Could it be that Christianity is a bit different that what I have understood for the last thirty years? Let me explain:

The process of becoming a Christian:
We are thrown into this world with the questions “who am I?”, “where do I come from?”, “where am I going?”.
By the virtue of the fact that something cannot come from nothing, and that every design has to have a designer, we conclude that there is a God. Upon comparing the Bible to other sacred books –its fulfilled prophecies, understanding of nature and human inner intricacies and archeological support, we conclude that it has to have been inspired by an entity outside of our time and domain -God. Upon considering and accepting –in part by evidence and in part by faith, that Jesus rose from the dead, we conclude that in fact He is who He claimed He was, the Son of God and the ONLY way and means to God and salvation. Therefore, following His instructions and teachings, we come to the moment of decision. We accept that we deserve separation from God due to our sin and that Jesus paid the punishment for our sins and therefore we can be ‘born again’ –spiritually, and become children of God, enjoy a relationship with Him and, after this material world is over, spend eternity with Him. We become Christians.

What then? What do we do between now and heaven? I would assume most Christians would agree that the summary of what we do here and now –in the meantime, in light of what He did for us; in return and out of gratitude, (a) we tell others about Jesus and (b) strive to live in obedience to God’s instructions by keeping our lives from the influence of the worldly; that is, keeping ourselves from sin as it harms us and brings death to our lives, purpose and relationships. That’s it. That’s what I thought Christianity was all about…. Until now.

The twist:
Although I had read and even studied this passage several times, now it seems to jump at me with a new meaning:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the worldJames 1:27

From reading at face value, and based on the rest of scriptures, we may agree that it is not a suggestion, recommendation or an option to “…keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. It is a command.

–       Could it be that “to look after orphans and widows in their distress”, is equally a command and not a mere option for living or topic of choice for some?

–       Is it possible that ‘caring for orphans and widows in their distress’ is something that every Christian should continually and consistently practice in the same way as ‘refusing to let the world corrupt you’?

–       Although not all of us (children, teenagers, singles, elderly and even some married couples with or without kids) are in a position to adopt, would it be too much of a stretch of this verse to conclude that every Christian can and should take somehow and active and continuous role in this process (adopting, giving financially, helping adoptive families with house clean up and chores, car-pooling, entertainment etc)?

–       Is it true what some suggest, that by taking active part into this process and practically ‘doing something’, we may actually understand in a deeper and better way Grace through the whole concept of ‘God adopting us into His family’ and therefore enable us to more effectively obey “…keep oneself from being polluted by the world”? The process of sanctification produced, not by our own efforts to ‘stay pure’ but out of gratitude and understanding of Grace – what God has done for us; isn’t that what The Gospel is all about?

If I am wrong and misinterpreting this passage; if taking care of the orphans and widows is no different than other good but optional matters like how you dress or where you go to church or whether or not I listen to Christian music, then Christian life goes on as usual. However, like Matt Papa says in his song, “If this is true, this changes everything”.

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Comments
  1. jerrybeckham says:

    A few years ago, shortly after I devoted my life to God, a friend of mine died. Two weeks after this, our men’s group was studying this chapter of James. Something came over me and I felt like I needed to be there for my friend’s wife. Her and my friend were always like parents to me and I loved them deeply. I help her through some business things and I still try and be there for her and her family. I have also since that time had a passion to help orphans and the poor. I have studied this passage a lot and heard about 5 pastor’s versions of it. Each one though did make the statement that it is our duty as Christians to take care of these people. The key to this is to make sure you understand that not all widows fall into this category. If a widow has children and they are at an age to take care of her, then you should let them. Only if the widow is unable to be cared for or taken care of is it our responsibility.

    In addition, I have found a true path and passion to help the poor and homeless since I signed up with the Live58 initiative (www.live58.org). I have talked to people all over and I am currently working on getting people to understand that as Christians we are called to care for the poor and more specifically the children. Compassion International is a fabulous group where one person can change someone’s life. You do not have to physically adopt a child to follow this command. With Compassion, you can pay $38 a month and you can select a child from all parts of the world and you are personally responsible for their schooling and food. You as in one Christian will change this one child’s life. I know a few people that are doing this with their own children and signing each of their own child up to sponsor one of these kids. You get to write letters and communicate with them and form a personal relation ship with them.

    God is calling us as a command to take care of these orphan or poor children (some have parents they live with, but the parents cannot afford to get them food or schooling).

    This is my passion and I really wish everyone would understand this and live this life. However, most Christians do not understand this passage or have this passion to help others.

  2. True Jerry. If there are 150 million orphans in he world and 220 million Christians in USA, we could make a huge impact even if one out of ten Christians adopt directly and the other 9 support. That would take care of a good portion of the world’s. A the very least, we could eliminate the crisis of orphans in United States -that would be a start.

  3. Angela says:

    excited to be on this journey with you!

  4. jerrybeckham says:

    If you look at numbers, the interesting thing is that there are fewer orphans in the south (excluding Florida). The majority of total orphans in the US are based in the New England states, Indiana and Illinois and then California. Most kids are placed in Foster homes through the Department of Children and Families Services, which is why there are no orphanages in Georgia.

    • On that note, I recently heard someone posing the provoking challenge that what these kids need is a family -more than a building or an orphanage. I know living in an orphanage most be better that living on the street but he kind of pointed to the idea that, though helping an orphanage (or Social Services, Compassion etc) is good, going the extra sacrificial mile and bringing these kids to a home permanently, is the best possible way for them; and more in line with God’s plan of family. .

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  6. Jen says:

    Why is the church a sleeping giant in this one? Think of the impact we could have! Why are mainstream pastors avoiding this topic???

    • Thank you Jen. In as much as the church could be doing more -and there is always more we can do, i get the impression that there is sort of a ‘adoption’ movement sweeping through the church in America. I’ve heard of many churches working on initiatives for adoption and foster care. One of the more active churches in this area is Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church

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