My Eyes are the Wrong Color
Scripture: Romans 8:14-17
"My eyes are the wrong color." I sat staring into the beautiful blue eyes of my 4-year old daughter as she explained to me that mom's eyes were brown, dad's green and hers blue. Even the dog had brown eyes ---- none matched hers. We never hid from her the fact that she was adopted; it was part of her story from the beginning. At the time, it was difficult for her to completely understand how all the pieces fit together to form our family.
Many Christians have never given much thought to their spiritual adoption. We like the idea of being a part of God's family, but I fear a level of misunderstanding about what this picture really means for us today. For our society, adoption is mostly for the benefit of the child. Today, children become eligible for adoption due to crisis in the lives of their birth families. In the first century, this was not the case.
If we go back to the time of the writing of Romans, Paul is addressing a largely non-Jewish crowd. Rome is the legal center of the known world, so when Paul used adoption terminology they would have had an understanding of his intent. When Roman couples did not have an heir, they would adopt a slave (normally a son) for very specific reasons. The first was so that they could have an heir, the second was so that someone would be there to bury them and grieve for them, and the third was to have someone to carry on the family business.
So, when Paul writes that we have received "adoption to sonship," (Romans 8:15b NIV) the culture and context of the book of Romans would imply that there are obligations that go along with this.
For the Christian, we have been spiritually adopted ---- becoming co-heirs with Christ. We have left the family of death and destruction in order that we might carry on the name and the business of the Father. In other words, we were not saved for our own benefit ---- although we have and will benefit more from this than any other decision we will ever make in our lives ---- but for the benefit of the Father. We are to carry on His name and work throughout our life. This is the theology of adoption.
In case you're wondering just what work we need to be carrying on, I might suggest the following two parables of Jesus as a great starting point. The first is the parable of the Prodigal Son ---- the restoration of relationships; both earthly and heavenly. The second is the Good Samaritan ---- meeting the needs of those who are hurting.
My daughter, now a teenager, has come to grips with her different eye color. She understands how God used the vehicle of adoption to build our family and how family goes way beyond physical similarities. Through our experiences, our entire family has learned of the grace and love of our Heavenly Father who desperately seeks a relationship with us. An adoptive relationship.
David Ummel is the administrator for Buckner Children and Family Service in East Texas. He and his wife, Shannon, are the parents of Lauren and Luke. They do their best to go to Disney World every year.