I’ve been thinking a lot about adoption lately. And no, Todd and I are not considering expanding our family… we are much closer to grandparent age than new parent age. But I recently attended a local Bible study on Romans taught by Paige Brown, and it is her fault that I am fixated on this concept right now.
A little context, I was adopted. My adoptive parents, Fred and Shirley received me when I was less than a month old. They did a fantastic job of letting me and my also-adopted brothers know we were adopted, but not doubt in any way that we were family.
As my brothers and I grew up, we also adopted our parents: their lifestyle, mannerisms and philosophies. We loved the same foods; we cheered for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs; we thought Fords were the best make of car in the whole U.S. We attended church every Sunday. We visited our grandparent’s houses every Sunday along with our aunts, uncles and cousins. People would sometimes remark how our family resembled each other, which would always make us laugh because we do not look alike at all. Though our physical DNA is different, our cultural styles and preferences mirror those of our middle class, midwestern adoptive family.
When I became a Christian, I learned that I had undergone a second adoption. I have been welcomed into God’s family. I am his daughter and Jesus is my savior and brother. This new reality is explained clearly in Romans 8:15-17A:
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.
I would like to think that I understand the significance of that reality better than most, but if that was true, I would expect that I might bear more of a family resemblance to my heavenly family. Like how my brothers and I assimilated our adoptive family’s characteristics, if I am God’s daughter, wouldn’t I act quite a bit more like him, like Jesus? Wouldn’t my choices more naturally mirror the family beliefs? Wouldn’t people be able to say, “Aren’t you God’s daughter?” just as readily as they said, “Aren’t you Fred & Shirley’s daughter?”
So, if the reality of my adoption into God’s family is not easily recognizable by others, I must ask why? In Romans 8:5-14, Paul explains the difference between our sinful nature and our spiritual nature. The fact is although I have been adopted and have a new spirit, my old sinful nature wants to rear its ugly head, constantly. Paul gives the antidote to this issue:
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)
Simple, right? Just put that sinful nature to death. Somebody get me an “Easy” button from Staples!
If it was easy, we would all put “Christ” as our last name on every legal document. But as my Bible teacher repeatedly remarked, living by the spirit IS supposed to be our regular experience! Over and over, she pointed out that there are simply no imperative statements in the whole chapter of Romans 8; not a single command or list of do’s and don’t’s. She said Romans 8, while it is the pinnacle of the book of Romans and really of the whole Bible, it is the expected standard of normal Christian living. It is what our everyday experience should be like because we have been adopted by God.
Since I am keenly aware that I am failing in this battle against my sinful nature and am not representing the family well, I wonder why would God adopt me? In His sovereign omniscience, he had to know that most days I would do more harm than good to the Christian name.
Paige Brown asked it this way; since God has already justified us by sending Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, satisfying the blood debt we owed, then assigning Jesus’ righteousness to us thereby guaranteeing that we can indeed enter his presence for all eternity, why bother with the adoption? Why make us part of his family?
The short answer: BECAUSE HE WANTED TOO! In ways that we cannot explain and will never understand on this side of heaven, it pleased God to adopt us into his family. His love for us is so great that he wants us to call him Dad. Nothing brings him greater joy. (See Ephesians 1:4-5.)
Though my personal experience with physical adoption was helpful, I am still struggling to receive, to experience the full benefits of my spiritual adoption. But I want to.
I want the knowledge that I was chosen by God to inform my every decision. I want to live from this place of full acceptance by God, no matter what depths of sin I might participate in on any given day. I want to proudly bear his name and be able to witness to others about the glorious reality of God’s unconditional love, always. And I want to please him too because, HE CHOSE ME!
Really, that’s the big difference between my first and second adoptions. Fred and Shirley chose to adopt a child; it was the adoption agency that placed me with them. But God, He had full control over his choice, and again, it makes me cry to even think about it, HE CHOSE ME!
That is why I can’t get these thoughts of adoption out of my head. Though I have known what it means to be adopted for my whole life, I feel like I am just now discovering the richness of the reality of my second adoption. HE CHOSE ME!
My friends, my hope is that you will look in the mirror and say that same thing, over and over again, letting the truth of those words wash over your heart and mind.