Adopted by God

June 19th, 2017

Romans 8:12-25

I do not think there is a more beautiful image of God’s love for us than the image of adoption. I have a friend, Tina, who was adopted. She tells me of her experience growing up with the confusion of what it means to be adopted. One day, while at school in the second grade, Tina began to be teased about being adopted. When children do not understand something, it seems natural to make fun of it as a coping mechanism. (Perhaps children are not the only ones who react this way to misunderstandings.) Tina went home in tears not knowing how to react to the other children telling her that her parents were not her real mom and dad. With large tears flowing down her cheeks, Tina walked in the back door of her home and was greeted by a worried mother. “What is wrong?” her mother asked. Tina told the story of being teased at school about not having real parents and not being as good as the other children because of it. Tina’s wise mother took Tina into her loving arms and told her that all of those other children were born into their families and their parents had absolutely no choice about the kid they got, “But we got to pick you because you were so special,” her mother said.

Romans 8 reminds us that we too are special enough to God to be chosen and claimed as God’s very own child. We are not born into that righteous family, but adopted into it by God’s choice in Jesus Christ. The Romans text acknowledges that there will be pains and troubles, but through the spirit of adoption we are to have a hope in the inheritance of Christ. Being a part of the family of God opens up the future glory of God’s kingdom to us. Therefore, when the pains of this life seem to be overwhelming, Romans tells us that we cannot even compare those pains to the future we have promised in God through Christ Jesus.

Hope can be a tricky part of life. No one likes a true pessimist who sees everything as negative all the time, but in some ways the opposite is true as well. Overly optimistic people are not the most popular to be around in our daily life. Life is too frustrating and difficult, at least at times, to always hear that everything will be fine. The difference between this overly optimistic stereotype and the hopeful nature of the Christian life is the time frame. “Humanly” optimistic people believe that everything will be taken care of soon, in this life. Hopeful Christians know that things may never seem quite right on this side of God’s kingdom, but in God’s timing, perfection will come. This hope does not downplay the agony and pain of life’s experiences, but it offers a perspective on that pain. When we are adopted into God’s family, through the actions of God through Jesus Christ, then we find ourselves hoping in God’s glory, which transcends the human experience and speaks to something larger than any one person’s problems.

Part of the Romans message is that trial and even suffering will be part of the Christian life. This is not said to frustrate us or make us worry about life, but rather to prepare us for the realities that come with being a faithful Christian. Even in our world today, there are times when Christian people must stand up for what is right according to God, over and against what seems right to the world. For the early Christian church, this often meant putting your life on the line; for most of us today, it means putting our reputation and the way others think about us on the line. We must find the courage, through the hope in the future glory of God, to stand up when the word of God must not be silent. When this happens, it will not always be popular, and it certainly will not always be easy, but we must be faithful and hold on to our hope in God.

Without hope in the future, there is little motivation to take action in the present. For Christian people, Romans describes a hope in the future that must be primary in our lives. This hope must come from a firm understanding of our adoption into God’s family and our trust in God’s eternal plan. When we have been offered such a gracious acceptance, and given such an awesome hope, we must not waste our lives living silently without joy. We must become a people who live out our hope and proclaim the adoption spirit of a loving God who wants to redeem all of God’s children.

This is not a false optimism, because we balance the realities of human suffering with trust in God’s ultimate plan. We must not be pessimists, and not optimists, as the world might define these two camps. Rather we are called to understand the reality and pain of human suffering, while having a greater hope than can be found by humanity alone. Romans 8 invites us to combine the realities of the human life (including the unique pressures of the Christian life) with a hope that comes from being loved and adopted into God’s family.

comments powered by Disqus