Adoption: God as the Available Parent

We are excited about the theme for the 2012 Rooted Conference – “Adoption: The Beauty of Grace” – which will explore how the theological concept of adoption speaks to the present youth generation.

By God’s grace I have a clean record as far as the law is concerned.  Now, since this is a theology blog, you may be thinking of ‘law’ as the apostle Paul uses the term…but I’m just talking about the regular American legal system use of the term ‘law’.…But what would happen if I saw President Obama and ran up to him to give him a hug, tell him about my day, and ask him for some personal help with a problem I’m having?

As the youth I work with responded when I asked them this question, I would be “neutralized.” But why?  I’m an American Citizen in full standing.  I’ve never even been accused – let alone convicted – of any crime.  Why can’t I boldly approach the President in such a manner?Sometimes we think that our justification gives us full access to God.  Jesus removes all of our sin and clothes us with his righteousness so that we can stand before God with full confidence.  And AMEN – certainly this is true!  We can stand before God with full assurance that his wrath won’t smite us – that’s the teaching of Hebrews 10:22.…But God is God.  He’s King of Kings, Lord of Lords…and President of Presidents.  If my righteousness according to American law doesn’t give me full access to the President of the United States, how is it that I have full access to draw near to the President of Presidents?

The answer isn’t in our justification, but in our adoption.  You see, there are two people who have unfettered access to President Obama: his two daughters.  Nobody’s going to stop them from hugging him, talking with him, or seeking out personal help – because they are family.

The real good news of the gospel is that God doesn’t just want our righteousness.  He wants us.  He doesn’t just want the youth we work with to be “good.”  He wants them.  

For a generation struggling with issues of abandonment, isolation, and insecurity, this is good news.

“[W]hen the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal 4:4-6)

Justification makes way for our adoption into the household of God, and our adoption gives us hope.

We need to remember and teach to our youth the grace given to us in our adoption.  For the more we understand God as Abba, the more we can understand the freedom we have as loved children to draw near to God Almighty – and we need to draw near, for only in him is the fullness, abundant life, and security we all crave.

And the more we draw near to Abba God in prayer, through Scripture, in the sacraments, and in the fellowship of the saints, the more we will learn to rest in and receive from his powerful and redeeming love.  

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

Mark Howard was a youth pastor for five years before joining Elam Ministries, an organization that seeks to strengthen and expand the church in Iran and surrounding areas. Through Elam, he's had the opportunity to work with Iranian youth as well as talk with American churches about God's work in Iran. Mark has his M.A. in Theological Studies from Wheaton College Graduate School and serves on Rooted's steering committee.

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