Our friend is one of the most radical individuals I know. With his fiery red hair and his larger than life personality, everything he does is BIG! The thing I love the most about he and his wife is that they LOVE BIG! One of the many ways that they have LOVED is through giving.
First thing, I’m not authority on this subject. Many, many of my friends do a lot more than I have ever been able to do. But I can share WHY we try.
There are essentially a few issues and motivations that combine to bring this issue to the forefront: Personal, Practical, and Theological. In reality, most of these are rooted in a Divine paradigm coming up and out through many outlets, however I have met many people who do not have a profession of classic Christian faith and are very connected to this cause. Clearly the classic expression of the church doesn’t have a corner on this. If they did, there wouldn’t be any orphans left.
Theologically, there are so many direct connections to adoption, it is undeniable. Mainly, the only reason I see that followers of Christ don’t participate in adoption it is through ignoring the issue, or focusing on something else. You simply can’t look far in Scripture and not come across something that represents adoption, either directly, or inferred. You have to overlook it or look somewhere else to get away from it.
The classic verse is in James “Pure Religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress” (we tend to ignore the rest of the verse). While this sounds good, and I do agree, it is important to understand that this is the same guy who wrote:
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
And it is important to note that while we quote this “as scripture,” he wasn’t doing anything more than summarizing the Torah. The Scriptures in James time, wasn’t “New Testament”. Caring for Orphans (and Widows AND Aliens escaping War) was such a significant part of their Torah, it was basically inherent.
Paul says, after meeting with the elders in Jerusalem that they agreed on several points, especially “caring for the poor which I was already eager to do”. The commandments were clear. The Poor were to be cared for. It was required, especially if you owned a field and grew crops.
Gleaning is COMMANDED. It isn’t suggested, it isn’t a good business idea. Making provision for the poor, including doing it while protecting the dignity and the safety of the poor was of parmount importance. Many people laud Boaz as an amazing example and tell the story of Ruth over and over again. I agree. However Boaz was Obedient, and not necessarily extravagantly so.
God cares for the poor, the orphan, the disenfranchised. The most classic expression of that was the widow and the orphan. It is clear in scripture of the Jews of the time of Christ, and wasn’t some new command. There are many more references, but Leviticus 25, along with some passages in Exodus, communicate this one simple idea that as someone “in the marketplace” is required to make provision for the poor. And the clearest expression of the poor is an orphan.
God sets the lonely in families. Period. God works through His Body, and therefore we are to do this. This is simple. Not everyone is called to bring an orphan directly into their family, however ALL believers (if they are interested in a “Pure Religion” MUST be involved at some level with this work- praying, contributing, and supporting.) In the “New Testament,” caring for the poor was so common that there were arguments about how and who. There are even instructions from Paul about how to ensure it was done correctly. If you claim to have faith, but have no works, your claim is in question. One of the most clear commands of God, after personal responsibility and worship, is to care for the poor and the lonely.
The Gospel itself, is the message of adoption. We literally go from being outside the House of God, to not just receiving a Father, but taking a place alongside Christ with the SAME INHERITANCE. We don’t just “get a family”, we become of the same status as if it was never different.
Many people are fine with giving financially to someone who is “in the ministry,” yet will balk at contributing some someone adopting an orphan. Yet there is clear direction to care for widows and orphans and giving to the poor, and no significant direction to give money to someone who doesn’t want to “work.” Paul clearly said, “Those who don’t work don’t eat”, and he himself “worked” while “doing ministry”. Work here isn’t preaching, teaching, singing, or praying. He’s talking about literal work. Yet people will restrain their giving because they think, “Why should I help you get a kid. If you want one, do it yourself.”. My attitude is almost exactly the opposite. I see far less provision for “vocational ministry,” yet clear direction to “give to the poor” in Scripture.
I love to see Miracles. I love talking about my friends who would be dead at age 10, but instead are alive. I love seeing whole communities of families give thousands of dollars they can’t really afford, and then do it again. And Again. And yet they thrive. I love seeing children sit up in bed that would have left in a corner until they were overcome by the spirit of death. I love hearing celebration over the small things. It reminds me of how much God loves me.
I like sowing into my own future adoptions. I want to adopt. I look for ways I can. But not being able to now, I trust that as I sow, I will reap to a whilrwind. When I need the resources in the future, I can be assured they will be there because I have sown good seed into the soil of good people doing the good thing directed by Scripture. It might be selfish, but I intend to go directly to God and ask for the harvest I need when it is my turn to rescue someone.
I want to be a good steward. It isn’t my money, or my resources. At the end of my life, I want Yahweh to be happy with how I discharged it. He loves the poor, and came and rescued everyone. This is the most practical way I can give and know I’m consistent with His heart. I want a good reward in the age to come. I’m selfish that way.