The thoughts below have been rattling around in my head keeping me awake at night, so I felt compelled to write them down. Please, I welcome your thoughts on the topic. I certainly don't mean to say that this is every church everywhere, because thankfully, I know it is not true, but it sure is rampant and it shouldn't be.
I am writing this today because I am distressed. It seems that the church has a blind eye when it comes to orphans and adoption. (or many other needs for that matter.) Not only that, but there is a standard response that adoptive parents receive when approaching the church for assistance with adoption expenses.
First expressed by leadership is utter bewilderment, “That’s nice that you want another child, but what does that have to do with the church? Why is it our responsibility to help you just because you would like another child?” Occasionally this is followed with the even more atrocious observance, “You have enough children.”
Second, the rationale, “If we were to help you, we would have to help everybody else who wanted to do the same.”
I don’t know which upsets me more. The fact that there is not just apathy to God’s commission regarding the orphan but an active resistance, an utter refusal to accept the responsibility placed upon us to care for orphans, or the unwillingness to open the floodgates of Heaven to make it happen. How has the church failed to remember that it was only through our adoption by God that we call Him Father?
In order to correctly discuss these issues, we must first establish some truths.
1. All Christians were once orphans in need of a father. We have been adopted into God’s family. Adoption is how we became children of God.
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
2. God has made it very clear that we are to care for the orphan, that in fact he views it as an expression of pure religion.
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
John McArthur observed that James picks two synonymous adjectives to define the most spotless kind of religious faith- that which is measured by compassionate love. Orphans and widows are an especially needy segment of the church. Since they are usually unable to reciprocate in any way, caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love.
3. Jesus expects action.
James 2:14-16 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
With these truths being set, let us revisit the quotes at the beginning of this letter. (Make no mistake, these are quotes.)
“That’s nice that you want another child, but what does that have to do with the church? Why is it our responsibility to help you just because you would like another child?”
There is an attitude within the church that orphans do not exist. Only potential parents do. When did the church become so egocentric that the only motivation for doing something is because it is something we want? What has happened to obedience, putting others ahead of oneself, of serving? When did it become all about me, me, me? How is it that our church leaders not only advance this way of thinking, but embrace it themselves? Serving others and putting them first is supposed to be paramount to the Christian’s experience. It is how we are supposed to show Christ’s love, isn’t it? However, numerous families, that I know personally, have been told that their desire to increase family size is not anything the church is connected to. (The family didn’t phrase it this way. They said God had called them to adopt a child. It was restated back in a way that disconnected the church from any responsibility to act.) In doing so, the orphan’s need, very existence, has been negated by the ones who should most feel compelled to action. How it must break God’s heart.
“If we helped you, we would have to help everyone else who wanted to do the same.”
I have one thing to say to this, “Good!”
Why wouldn’t the church be eagerly offering this kind of assistance? One family was told this after asking if the church would take a “free-will” offering. They didn’t ask for a grant, a loan, a tithe. They asked that the body be given the opportunity to give of their own free will, and the church leaders not only didn’t want to offer this opportunity, but were horrified at the thought of potentially being put in the position of having to offer it again. Do you understand this? They are saying that they don’t want to help and don’t want anyone else to know of the need lest they decide to do the same and the church would be obligated to help them too!
Instead of seeking and meeting the needs of the lost, the church is actively avoiding the very thought of helping anyone outside of themselves. What has happened to the concept of sacrificial giving?
2 Corinthians 8:2-4
2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord…
It seems that the church has forgotten that everything belongs to God and comes from him. It seems to believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the church has a lock on the corral around them.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is within your power to act.
The church didn’t say that their funds were depleted because of all of their sacrificial giving, that there wasn’t a penny left, they said that they couldn’t do it because they would potentially have to help someone else!
Here are a few final thoughts. I was an orphan. We were all orphaned. God, in His mercy, adopted us. This came at a tremendous cost. We were condemned, dead in trespasses and sins. The cost of our redemption was the blood of Jesus, His death on the cross. He paid the penalty so we could become joint heirs with Christ, the sons of God.
When God told Jesus what needed to be done for our adoption, where would we be if He had said,” How is it any of my concern that you want more children? Besides, don’t you have enough?”