I remember once when I was coming home from college. When I arrived at my mother’s house there was a strange, black dog on our back porch. Immediately I began scolding the dog and telling it to leave. Don’t get my wrong. I love dogs. In fact, all animals. But in our area the dogs that roam are the ones typically dangerous to our other animals. So it’s important that we let them know that this is our area and they can return to their area.
As I’m telling the dog to “get out of here” my mom runs out and tells me, “no, I adopted her.” Immediately everything changed. I knelt down, spoke kindly to her and began to pet her. My mom had named her Annie. It was the start of loving one of the best dogs we’ve had (Tiffy, you were still the best of all time).
Annie had been lost, was deeply depressed, and hungry when my mother had taken her in. It took quite a long time to get over the grief of losing her first family. I’m not sure she ever completely did but we lavished our love on her and let her know she was welcome, wanted and appreciated. I still miss her.
Adoption changes everything in an instant. It’s not like babysitting. It’s not even foster care. Adoption is union and comes with all rights, privileges and responsibilities, the same as a natural born child.
There is no longer any difference except a different past. That past sometimes takes years and decaded to overcome. Those who are able to to understand their total acceptance thrive much better than those that still have doubts about their status as “adoptees” instead of children. It can take a lot of time and a lot of love.
Adoption goes much more beyond than just offering food, water and a place to bed down for the remaining years of growing up. Adoption is that the adopted one gets the same love, affection and attention of the natural born children. Sometimes even more as there are more barriers to overcome.
May I say that again. The adopted ones get the same love, affection, devotion and protection that the natural born children receive.
I’ve been meditating this week on the Scripture, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 Jn 3:1).
We are God’s adopted ones.
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Eph 1:5).
We are adopted. And it seems like John makes a big deal, and rightfully so, of how great God’s love for us is that He would adopt us into His family. And that we too now get the sames rights, privileges and responsibilities, but also the same love, affection, devotion and protection as Jesus.
That really is stunning to think about.
And in those times where we begin to drift into thinking that we are set aside by God, his leftover, his bypassed one, there remains the truth of our adoption. It is marked by the promised Holy Spirit: We are His.
Because we are His and we are called children of God, we get the same affection, love, devotion and protection as Jesus. Even when we don’t feel or see the work of God in our lives, this is the anchor for our souls.
Tonight as I was headed back from my mother’s place, in the outdoor trashcan was a crown made of branches that had been used for an Easter event at church. I took it out and hung it up.
For a brief moment I thought of the mockery that went with that crown. These past years I’ve come to understand how cruel and deeply hurtful mockery can be. And that’s what the crown represented.
But it was more than that. The mockery was challenging Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
Even Jesus himself was provoked to question his identity. I doubt that he did question his identity, but there were many voices that were provoking him to reconsider.
“Hail, King of the Jews!” they antagonized as they spit and bowed in feigned worship, rising in disgust to slap him violently in the face.
The challenge to his identity was the same at the beginning of his ministry when he was attacked during his fasting in the desert:
“IF you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread…” (Mt 4:3)
“IF you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…” (v. 6)
“All this I will give you, IF you will bow down and worship me” (v. 9)
If the identity of Jesus was provoked from the beginning of his ministry to the very end of his life, will we not also be provoked to question our identity? To wonder if God loves us? Cares for us? Sees our pain? Still does miracles in our lives and not just for other people?
Or are we just an adopted after-thought. Maybe even God’s foster child that he tolerates.
But the truth remains. It should even capture our soul. And in the times of doubting God’s attention and care for us let it be our place of meditation.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 Jn 3:1).