Last week, two of our closest friends adopted a little girl. They have been blogging about their experience of adoption with great authenticity from the highs to the lows, and everything in between. It has been fun to watched their family form with a new member added to it forever. Though adoption is a different method than pregnancy, their daughter is no less their daughter than ours is…forever. Ideally, adding a kid to your family is always a choice, but in adoption, there is never an exception to that. What a beautiful and powerful commitment to love someone forever!
In the book of Ephesians, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, a group of believers that he helped plant. Paul treats them as if they are his own children who he wants to raise up and see succeed. He writes to those believers, “[God] destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Christians believe that God calls us his own children, that we are adopted into a family and become daughters and sons of the most Holy when we accept the gift of life in Jesus. Not only are we imperfect while God is perfect, but God sent Jesus to die on our behalf so that we might be reconciled to God as we were created to be. When we accept this sacrifice, we are adopted, we can call God “Abba” (Daddy), as Jesus did.
I love the writings of Paul that use the words and images of adoption into the family of God or the family of believers. For those who do not grow up in the church, or do not have a supportive extended family, this is just more great news! The church, the people who believe, are called to be family for one another, and are together adopted into the family of God.
This means that God makes a choice to love us, to commit to us, to covenant with us, and to be in relationship with us. I don’t know about you, but I do not feel worthy of such a commitment most days. Some days I am the screaming two year old who wants something now, and can’t wait for it. Other days I am the moody teen who isn’t grateful for all of the amazing blessings around me. Sometimes I am even the confused adolescent who wanders away from the path I am supposed to be on. And yet, God loves me. And not in a Sunday-school version of a Raffi song sort of way. God loves me passionately, as his own kid.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” We aren’t an accident. God actually chose to adopt us, even when we are kicking and screaming. What a beautiful and powerful commitment to love!
This coming Sunday, our daughter, Ana, is going to be baptized. People believe many different things about baptism, even within our church. We celebrate adult and “believer” baptism, but we also on occasion celebrate baptism of an infant or baby.
I believe that baptism is a sign of a covenant between us and God of an act of salvation that has already been accomplished on our behalf.
I was baptized as a believer, not as a baby…and this is good and right.
We are baptizing our daughter as a baby…and this is good and right. When she is baptized this coming Sunday, it is a sign that she is being adopted into the family of believers, that she will be called a child of God. It is Grant and I committing to raising her in the church, surrounding her with love, and teaching her about the love we have experienced ourselves.
In Acts 16, there are two accounts of a person (Lydia, and then the jailer respectively) hearing the word of God, believing, and then their whole households being baptized. It is this idea that Grant and I are committing to, to raise Ana as baptized into a family because of our belief in Jesus. We pray that someday she will make a personal commitment to the Lord. But in the meantime, we are recognizing that what Jesus did, once for all, has already been accomplished, not because of anything we have done or chosen, but because Jesus chose us, because God adopted us.
When we rebel, it does not make us any less children of God! It was God’s choice to adopt us. It is our place to recognize the great gift of this adoption.