Long time no see. Maybe one day I’ll become a better blogger. But on this good Friday, my heart is full and I have to spill some of it. My family and I just got back from DFW International Airport where we welcomed my son-in-law, daughter, and brand new adopted grandson home.
They started the adoption process from Ethiopia over four years ago. Last year they were matched with a young orphan boy in Addis Ababa. It has been a long hard emotional road for them which culminated in bringing him home today. Our family and extended family of friends met them and greeted Shepherd for the first time. Emotions were high, tears flowed and this young boy was celebrated like the long lost family member that he is.Today as I watched this little guy with eyes in wide confusion as strangers poured their emotions out and cheered him, I couldn’t help but think about how God and Jesus react when we are adopted into their family through Jesus’ wonderful gift of justifying us before his own father to make us sons. Is it not this same beautiful picture of love and grace?
I have little to offer God. Sure I could point to this little accomplishment, or that moment when people cheered my “goodness”, but then I’d also have to make sure the bad stuff that happens stays in the dark. I’d have to lie to myself and to God to think that I have “done enough” to enter heaven. Far too many times, Christians think this is the point of Christianity… to do enough to get to heaven. This is so wrong and unbiblical. First off, the goal is not heaven. The goal is family. The goal is not a “mansion”. The goal is to become a son! It’s about having a loving relationship with the creator of the universe!! A creator with higher standards than you or I could muster even if we never made another mistake as long as we live. The only legal action that makes us sons and daughters is the legal action of adoption… and our adoption paperwork was completed on a cross in Judea. It is finished. We just have to embrace our new Father and His family. The goal… is finished. What happens after our deaths just allows that goal to continue into eternity.
As I looked into little Shepherd’s curious face this morning I saw the face of a child who has through his own merit done nothing to deserve the love and grace that has been extended to him. He has seen, in his short little lifetime, pain and suffering most of us will never see. Now he is finding rest because someone interceded on his behalf to make him available for adoption. Then a loving father prepared a home for him, met all the legal requirements himself, then flew to that desolate land full of sorrows and brought his son home. Was the goal to simply make Shepherd an American Citizen? To get him to his version of heaven? Of course not. That’s just a great place to be family together. The goal was sonship! That actually happened before Shepherd got here.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
(John 14:18 ESV)
The New Testament actually uses adoption to exemplify our relationship with God. Like Shepherd, we are orphaned and estranged from God’s family. But He loved us so much, He left home, fulfilled all the legalities we can’t, and chose to embrace us where we are in this desolate place. After we accept His embrace, everything else follows: our love for Him, our obedience, and our sanctification. Shepherd started by embracing his new parents but as his journey with his new family begins, he will soon be loving them, obeying them, learning their language, and becoming more like them as he grows.
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
(Ezekiel 11:17-20 ESV)
God starts by saying, “I will gather you from the people”. Then he changes us (new heart, new Spirit). This change makes us obedient so everyone will know we are part of His family.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him
(Romans 8:14-17 ESV)
The irony of seeing this in action today was that today is called “Good Friday” as the world officially celebrates it as the anniversary of Jesus’ crucifixion for us. So on this day, we were legalized to be made sons and daughters by Jesus. Then almost 2000 years later, we get to watch adoption being completed in this little African boy who was saved, loved, embraced, and celebrated. It is a good Friday in both small and great ways.
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:22-24 ESV)