From Orphan to Co-Heir
There is a type of adoption, a compassionate offering, where a mom chooses something different for her child. She places her baby in the loving care of another family, wrapped in a prayer of hope for the future. I have witnessed this up close, in the life of a dear friend, and there are few things more selfless and beautiful.
Sometimes the brokenness of divorce leads to adoption. A blending of families creates the opportunity for step-parents to love and raise children as their “own.” I have experienced this and am very thankful for those relationships. Out of God’s great compassion, I have two step parents who loved deeply and not once made me feel as a sub-par daughter.
Adoption may also begin with abandonment, inconvenience, abuse or neglect.
But…all adoption begins with loss.
There is a an adoption described in the gospel story, when we come into the family of God.
In the garden, Adam and Eve lived in perfect relationship with God (Genesis 2) until they broke that relationship through disobedience. We suffered the consequences of our behavior, sent away from the garden. And yet, he has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Since that time our Great God, out of love, has filled the story book with rescue and redemption. He has spent all of human history reaching out to restore and repair relationship with His creation.
As a mother waiting for her son to turn from a life of addiction, as a father who always longs to embrace his little girl regardless of her wanderings,
He will cover you with his feathers and in his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4
He has pursued us.
What did we do? Our response has been to push farther away. We’ve built an empire of distraction, everything pointing away from the one true God. We spend our days ingesting destruction and chasing after worthless things.
But the Lord, when we are pulled into repentance, when we open our hands to freely receive His gift of grace, when we realize we are eating scraps off the floor and we could be seated at the table, the Lord adopts us. Our relationship is restored, no longer broken. Grief and separation are covered in the blood and we are transformed into heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17).
Co-heirs. Jesus is the son of God, and appears to prefer the title ‘son’ as he uses it frequently. In His earthly ministry, he doesn’t refer to himself as King of Kings, or Lion of Judah, or Alpha and Omega but most often describes his relationship with God as that of a Father/Son.
We become co-heirs, in both legal and relational standing.
I didn’t really understand this until Phil and I began working out our Will. What happens to our stuff when we die? Each child will receive an inheritance, their is no differentiation between adopted and biological children. (Although my husband likes to joke that our daughter gets everything. Sorry boys;)
When faith ignites and we recognize Christ as Savior, we are adopted into God’s family. Jesus is called the first born among many brothers (Romans 8:29). We are named co-heirs and God’s estate is the “entire universe.” (Look here for an excellent discussion on this from John Piper.)
And it is our joy to discover that in this adoption, every empty space, every longing and desire is truly satisfied. We are no longer chasing the empire of empty distraction. We are freed up to press into the only relationship that is true. We realize our emptiness is a shadow, a vacuum left from our separation traced all the way back to the garden.
Adoption into God’s family doesn’t mean we are merely brought into a new family. Rather our adoption is restoration of an ancient ailment, folded into our original family. The family you were created to be a part of.
“When we adopt–and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities–we’re picturing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.”
Russell Moore, Adopted for Life, pg 66.