First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL
Monday, February 20, 2017
Adapted by Heinrich DuBose-Schmitt, from "Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice" by Russell Moore
Our God is a father to the fatherless. On November 8th, Orphan Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate adoption and foster care – essentially global orphan care that follows after God.
I want to tell you about God’s great love for orphans through the story of an adoptive father named Joe. He was a Godly man, a man who feared the Lord and worshipped him. And he worked hard at his job, building things with his hands.
When he was engaged to be married, he learned that his wife-to-be was pregnant -- pregnant with a child that was not his. Joe had every reason to end his engagement; no one would have blamed him. In fact, Joe would have been praised for his decision not to marry the girl. No doubt, he could have found another woman to marry and have a family with. But he didn't. Instead, he married the pregnant young lady and adopted the child, a little boy.
In adopting this child, Joe took on responsibility for raising the boy alongside his wife. The little boy called him "daddy." Joe first taught him how to be a godly man. Joe taught him the bible, and they stood together in worship. Joe showed him how to work with his hands, so that the son grew up learning his father's trade. Joe also gave him his family name, the inheritance as his first born son.
You see, it's incredibly important to us that Joe adopted that boy. Joe actually never went by Joe. He was known to everyone as Joseph. His wife’s name was Mary, and their firstborn son — as you might by now have figured out — was Jesus. Jesus’s identity as the Christ, after all, is tied to his identity as the descendant of David, the offspring of Abraham. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus means that Jesus belongs to the house of David just as truly as if he were in a physical sense the son of Joseph.
Joseph’s fatherhood is significant for us precisely because of the way the gospel anchors it to the fatherhood of God himself. When we adopt — and when we encourage a culture of adoption — we are picturing something that’s true about God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise. And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, fighting to make them sons and daughters.
All of us, as followers of Christ, are called to protect children. And protecting children doesn’t simply mean saving their lives or providing for their material needs — although it does mean both of those things. God’s fatherhood is personal, familial. Protecting children means rolling back the curse of fatherlessness, inasmuch as it lies within our power to do so.
Not every believer in this room will stand praying outside an abortion clinic. Not every believer in this room will take a teenager into his or her guest bedroom. Not every believer in this room is called to adopt children. But every believer in this room is called to recognize Jesus in the face of his little brothers and sisters when he decides to show up in their lives, even if it interrupts everything else.
Think of the plight of the orphan somewhere right now out there in the world. It’s not just that he’s lonely. It’s that he has no inheritance, no future. With every passing year, he’s less “cute,” less adoptable. In just a few years, as a teenager, he’ll be expelled from the orphanage or from “the system.” What will happen to him then? If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll join the military or find some job training. Maybe he’ll end up being exploited just to get enough to eat for a day. Maybe he’ll become desperate enough to take his own life. Not every orphan reaches that point of desperation, but can you feel the force of such desperation? Jesus can. What if a mighty battalion of Christian parents would open their hearts and their homes? It might mean that at Christmas there’ll be one more stocking at the chimney at your house — a new son or daughter who found the grace of a carpenter at your knee. As we approach November 8th, Orphan Sunday, we need to think about one question: what will it mean for God’s great love for orphans to find an echo in how you live and act? When you answer that question for yourself, go and do it.