The Glory of Adoption
Why is it that when we consider the word ‘adoption,’ the first thing that typically comes to our mind is earthly adoption? We think of delicate newborns, confused toddlers and rebellious teenagers in need of unconditional acceptance and tangible love. We think of the often difficult and discouraging paperwork process and financial burdens of adopting children into families. While I’m not suggesting that these are not realities of adoption—I have personally experienced them—I would like to see our initial paradigm shift from the earthly to the heavenly. Adoption is always heavenly before it is earthly. Without an accurate understanding and pervasive experience of our spiritual adoption, we will never grasp the profundity of earthly adoption.
It is unfortunate how little our understanding of God’s vertical adoption influences our culture’s understanding of horizontal adoption. Consider these brief reflections on spiritual adoption:
1. God only adopts children with ‘issues’
There is nothing in humanity that moves God to adopt us. There is no lack of branches in God’s family tree; the Trinitarian family is sufficient for eternity. The magnificence of adoption is discovered when a contrast is made between the person adopting—the great and glorious God—and the objects of adoption—miserable sinners, children of wrath and disobedience by nature. We are not cute, cuddly and lovable newborns. We are not children that ‘deserve a better life.’ Apart from Jesus Christ—God’s eternal, only-begotten, natural Son— all of God’s children are those ‘problem kids.’ God did not scour the earth to find ‘perfect children’; rather he embraced the kids with the most ‘baggage’ and declared them as his own!
2. Spiritual adoption is expensive
If you think adopting children is expensive on earth, consider the fees of spiritual adoption. The God who owns the ‘cattle on a thousand hills’ (Ps. 50:10) and has endless resources at his fingertips secured our adoption with a priceless payment— the life of his only ‘biological’ child. Not only was Jesus Christ put to death to pay our debt; his death was brutal and vicious. In the death of Christ, our adoptive Father poured out the fullness of his wrath and the heat of his anger for our rebellion against him on his Innocent Son. This was the only form of payment that was acceptable for this adoption transaction—no grants, tax-credits or loans accepted—merely a shameful and cursed death on a cross to an undeserving, yet willing, Older Brother.
3. Spiritual adoption is a past action that is secured forever
Because of the nature and sufficiency of the death of Christ, adoption into God’s family is forever. Because our adoption rests on the object of faith and not the strength of our faith, we can rest assured that the final judgment of adoption has been signed and sealed. God legally declares our innocence (justification), welcomes us into his family with full rights to the inheritance (adoption), transforms our lives into the image of his Son (sanctification) and promises to deliver us to eternal life and peace in his Kingdom (glorification). God will never revoke these promises. We will never be ‘returned to sender,’ regarded as ‘damaged goods,’ or declared unfit for the family. We are not even referred to as ‘adopted children’; in Christ we are simply sons and daughters of the living God. Accepted and welcomed forever.
4. Spiritual adoption deserves to be imitated in the earthly realm
We must recognize that adoption is always heavenly before it is earthly. While I hope I have communicated some of this clearly, I don’t want us to neglect the earthly implications of our spiritual adoption. The vertical necessitates the horizontal. Reconciliation with God necessarily demands reconciliation among humanity. When we consider the glorious doctrine of adoption, how much more are we inclined to mirror our Adoptive Father in our own lives?
Written by Rev. Adam Viramontes, Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church, Albuquerque USA.