“Are they both yours?” was the question from a stranger in the grocery store as my wife walked through the fresh produce. That was a common question for my wife a number of years ago when we only had two children. Two children who looked so different that it begged the question. Our oldest has blond hair and blue eyes while our second child has dark hair and brown eyes. For the more shameless they would even ask, “Do they have the same father?”
Since our third and forth child have come along, my wife no longer gets that question, just curious looks. Not because we have four children, but because our third and fourth are adopted. Now people have no idea were any of our kids came from. And yes, they are all ours.
Though the Christmas season is in full swing, I find myself still in November. November was National Adoption month. A month designed to raise awareness about the 115,000 children in the US foster care system who are available for adoption. For the past several years, every November I stare at the numbers…over 420,000 children in the foster care system, 100,000 children awaiting adoption, 69,000 children whose parental rights have been terminated while only 57,000 children were adopted in 2009.
But the number that is most striking to me is 300,000. That’s the number of Christian congregations in America as of 2005 (see Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 44, Number 3, September 2005, pp. 307-322). The reason this is so striking is not because there are three times the number of Christian churches as children in need of domestic adoption; nor is the reason that so few of us know. Few of us realize that if just three congregations agreed to adopt one child, we would take care of the orphans in our midst. Just think, three congregations could come up with the money to pay the legal fees, three congregations could find one home for a child to live in and three congregations could provide the community needed to nurture the child. Not everyone is called to adopt a child, but everyone who has been adopted by God by faith in the Lord Jesus is called to care for the orphans and widows. Adoption is central to the Gospel because being adopted is the identity of everyone who has become a Christian.
Author J.I. Packer described it this way, “Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. For this is the Christian’s secret of – a happy life? – yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life: and these are the aspects of the situation that really matter. May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine.”
This Christmas, we will celebrate the birth of Christ. The Son of God who is both fully God and fully man. We will celebrate the coming of the Christ. The Christ who was himself adopted…by Joseph. “Is he yours?” was a question Joseph would have gotten. I suspect his answer may have gone something like this, “Well, it’s complicated, but yes. He is my son, but He is my Lord.” Jesus exchanged his perfect home in heaven to dwell on earth, in order that we might know Him as our great elder brother and Savior and join His family.
So this Christmas season, if you have saving faith in Christ, reflect on what Jesus gave up in order for you to be a member of His family and ask, “How does the reality of my adoption make me care for the orphans in my community?” If you are still in the “foster family of wrath,” it’s never too late to be adopted. Relinquish the rights of sin over you and relish the joy of having a new family this Christmas.
Ed Dunnington is the Senior Pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Roanoke. Visit their website at www.ctkroanoke.org.