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Before God laid the earth's foundations He had you in mind. He chose you to become part of His family. You are the apple of your Father's eye. His beloved. No longer a slave, but a son.
Adoption was not a divine afterthought or God's plan B. From the outset adoption was God's chosen rescue plan for humanity. 'In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship and he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.' (J. I. Packer).
Adoption speaks of a God who loves justice, mercy and grace. It reveals God's heart for the vulnerable, the lonely and the lost. For God this choice came at the ultimate cost: the life of His Son. This act of unconditional love not only wipes the slate clean, but goes far beyond that by generously welcoming us into an intimate relationship with God our Father, making us co-heirs with Christ. In Him we find a family to belong to, a new identity and a glorious inheritance.
This theme of outrageous grace is woven throughout God's redemption story, with His plan for our adoption at its very core. Therefore it comes as no surprise that time and again the Bible exhorts us to care for the vulnerable and fatherless. I think this goes far beyond caring for orphans and widows in the literal sense, but gives us a mandate to provide for those who are struggling; to be mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers to those in need of family; and to speak up on behalf of the vulnerable. This should not be out of a sense of compulsion, but out of a heart that loves because God first loved us.
I remember starting out as a newly qualified social worker I had such high hopes for the children I worked with. Hopes for educational success, and later on for fulfilling careers, homes of their own, healthy and happy relationships and children to love and care for. The list went on. However, it was not long before this changed. Not because these things are wrong, but because ultimately I realised there is only one thing that matters: I want every child that I have worked with to know that they are loved. This is what they need the most.
The world is full of children and adults alike longing to be loved, to be accepted and to belong. Longing to experience a love that never gives up and never loses faith. A love that is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. A love that drives out fear. Living out our identity as children of God, secure in His love for us, can only result in us wanting to love others. For some this will mean working with and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. For others it will mean fostering and adopting children who need a home and a family, or supporting families who do. For others still it may be as simple as making sure there's an extra place at the dinner table, giving away a financial gift, or offering a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear.
On 6th November 2016 churches across the UK took time to celebrate Adoption Sunday. This annual event has been set up by Home for Good, a Christian charity aiming to raise the profile of adoption and fostering in the Church. Let us use this as a time to not only celebrate our identity as a child of God, but to imitate our Father and seek to truly be family and love one another, even when it comes at a cost. Let's create a culture in our church where we actively choose to look outside of our comfortable and safe friendships, so that we can draw in those on the edges, look out for the lonely, and love one another other fiercely and unconditionally.