Last week we added a new member to our family. We welcomed her into the world, stayed a couple less-than-comfortable nights in the hospital, and headed home. We left the hospital and made it home within four hours. Why four hours? Because we did not have this one in our hometown. She was a precious gift that came by way of another birthmother who lived a few hundred miles away. The drive home was a familiar route as our family has spent the last five months getting to know this young woman who could not keep her baby.
Of all the experiences over the last few months, perhaps the most interesting was watching the ultrasound. Much like watching two of our previous children prior to birth, there were still tears in our eyes and we were still hand in hand as we observed the miraculous spectacle, but this time my wife was not on the table. This time we watched as our baby’s life grew and was nourished inside the womb of another woman.
Over the last few months we shared meals with our new friend, visited the zoo with our children, went shopping together, and continually prayed for her. Then the day came when she had the beautiful new child, and soon after we found ourselves on the long road home. Many people understand that joy and sadness can exist together in the same moment. My wife and I experienced this afresh during that ride home.
So, after a week of limited sleep I will make it short and get to the point. There is no more fitting picture for the gospel than that of adoption. God created man and was a father to Adam and Eve. Through their rebellion they were disinherited. They lost their status as children of God. That same Father, according to his good pleasure had a plan from before the beginning of time to redeem a people to himself.
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Our “natural” lineage affords us only death. As sons of Adam, we are dead in our transgressions (Eph. 2:1) and wallowing in our blood (Ez. 16:22). We are adopted into God’s family through covenant. Our inheritance is restored and we become his children. Understanding this is helpful for clearing up an overemphasis on natural descent in building our own families. It is helpful for those who ask the genuine question in their minds, but stop short of awkwardly verbalizing it – “do you love your adopted children as much as your biological ones?” I spoke to this a few months ago in a post on adoption.
Interestingly, we are still plagued in this life by the obsession with blood lineage that has haunted men since the beginning of time. In an instructive book entitled Adopted for Life, the author recalls a time in his life that many of us may remember struggling with. “I told my wife, ‘I don’t mind adopting a few years down the road, but I want my first child to be mine.’ I can still hear my voice saying those words – and it sounds so small and pitiable and hellish now.”[i]
I remember making a similar statement to my wife years ago. I share the author’s disdain when recalling the experience. In God’s economy, legitimate family bonds are covenant bonds. The covenant boundary defines the family, not biological descent. God intends this to be clear in the picture afforded to us in Christ’s earthly lineage as well as our status as his children.
A covenant structure or relationship defines our nuclear families and it also defines the one and only family that will extend into eternity with Christ – the family of God. This is key to understanding Christian baptism. In God’s economy, water is thicker than blood.
[i] Russell D. Moore, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2009), 21.