GUEST POST: by David E. Prince
“I thought you said you were having a Mission Conference?” That is not an unusual reaction when people find out that responding to the global orphan crisis through adoption is the topic of our 2010 Mission Conference. The adoption of orphans and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are completely distinct categories in the mind of many evangelical Christians.
The adoption of orphans is a good thing that we are glad some people are involved in but glorifying God through the Great Commission is the central task of all followers of Jesus Christ. Such a view ignores the fact that the Scripture describes the unfolding of the Great Commission as God’s work of adoption (Romans 8:15; 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). As J.I. Packer so powerfully stated in Knowing God, “adoption is the highest privilege of the Gospel.” We are not only declared righteous in a legal sense in the Gospel we are also totally embraced in the family of God with a new identity and inheritance.
Human families exist because they are a reflection of the eternal Fatherhood of God and His plan for the eternal Son to be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11-18). These brothers in the family of God were not born into His family but they are those who by grace “He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:13). They are the adopted children of God. We look to God as Father to understand and define the role of earthly Fathers and as we live with earthly fathers we better understand His perfect fatherly provision in our lives.
Consider how Jesus reasons when He calls for His followers to forgive others their trespasses and for those who refuse to forgive others He warns “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). This plea and warning do not provide a plan for justification by forgiveness but assert the direct relationship between being forgiven by God and forgiving others. Jesus points to the reciprocal relationship between the forgiveness He provides in the Gospel and the forgiveness of the flesh and blood people we rub shoulders with every day. According to Jesus, it is nonsensical for someone who has been eternally forgiven to refuse to forgive.
This reciprocal relationship is the way it always works with Christian living and why the believer never moves past the Gospel. Thus, it is nonsensical for those who were spiritual orphans and have been adopted into the family of God through the atoning blood of Jesus to refuse to be involved in the adoption of the millions of physical orphans in the world today. When we understand this it becomes clear why James refers to rescuing orphans as “Religion that is pure and undefiled” (James 1:27). Not all Christians will or should become adoptive parents but all Christians must be involved in seeing orphans adopted into families and look into the face of an earthly abba, father who will tell them about the Abba, Father and His eternal Son.
As my friend Russell Moore has said, “The Great Commission is a call to spiritual warfare not a public relations campaign.” The same is true for adoption. Christian adoption is not simply a nice thing for kind, charity-minded people. Living the Gospel in the world by adopting orphans is spiritual warfare and Satan hates it because it cannot be severed from the Great Commission. Adoption is a fundamental aspect of the battle against the principalities and powers who hate the Gospel. When we can ignore the cries of the millions of orphans in the world we are not simply saying something about our charity but about our missiology.
“I thought you said you were having a Mission Conference?”
“We are, we really are.”