Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adopted and Adopting

This is a more philosophical post.  If those are not to your taste, I take no offense.

Our family holds to the theological framework described as "Reformed" theology, a branch from the stream  of the Protestant reformation, generally by way of Scotland and England (ie - the Westminster standards).  I know of a family at a sister church to ours (also in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) that adopted a little boy from U.  Our former pastor (since retired) adopted both of their children locally.  There was recently an issue in our denominational magazine about adoption, with a somewhat breathless article about a family's recent Eastern Europe adoption, and some more reasoned articles from adoptees, etc.

But for all of that, I think Reformed people tend to have a hard time adopting.

Susanna's last family update may hit on a contributing factor.  The standing (bad) joke among some friends of mine is "Presbyterians do it decently and in good order".  The apparent chaos of God's providence can be scary (it is to me sometimes).  But if we really hold to such a high view of God's sovereignty and glory in all aspects of our lives and the universe, why can't we trust that the ways our lives may be "messed up" by adoption are good for us, and utterly necessary to our sanctification?

My wife plays the harp, and took her bachelor's degree in it.  Before I met her, I did not really appreciate orchestral music (favoring Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, who still make cameos when I am doing work in the garage).  I did not appreciate orchestral music because I had no clue how complex and textured it was.  The theme or leitmotif was about all I could remember from a piece.  After many years (and concerts), I can honestly affirm that Sibelius on a fair-to-middling day wrote much better music than Hank or Johnny on a good day.  I understand it better.  I can see the long-range order, the development of a work part-by-part, and appreciate what is being built. 

And so often I don't get God's harmonies.  They grate, I can't see past this passage to the next, and I sometimes feel like I am trapped in a John Cage concert (thank God I am not - I mean that earnestly - God actually knows where He is going with all this).

But if you fear "terrible experiences" adopting (like some might categorize the experience of our old pastor), is it not perhaps more likely that we just refuse to understand what God seeks to do in us, the children, or everyone else around?  If we elevate our idea of order, we risk making an idol of our preference (or a societal norm, or what other people might say, or whatever). 

If ever our perception of events is allowed to be normative in our thinking, we are resisting God.  The only reality that matters is His eternal, inscrutable, and most wise decree in all circumstances, and His revealed will to us in Scripture. 

If we affirm that we were dead in trespasses and sins, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us so God could adopt us, how can we be so cold?  (And I am asking this of myself most of all.)

If God the Father could make us His children in the face of our deadly (and in our old nature still continuing) rebellion against Him and His love, why do not more Christians imitate their Father?

If we Reformed claim to understand the doctrine of Adoption, why are we so slow to apply it?

So let us flee every idol, whether of comfort, custom, order, luxury, system, hobby, career, or desire, and do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God.  Then, whatever He puts in our path to do, let us do it well.

    Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    1 Thessalonians 5:12-18


PS - That the streets of the New Jerusalem are paved with gold is not intended to elevate beauty or give us an ideal to imitate.  Rather, the effulgence of beauty is inescapable in the city of God, the temple of the Lamb.  Beauty, order, system, are all effects, the cause of which is the utter dominion exercised by Christ in His kingdom.  If we want beauty, order, or system here and now, let us seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  The elevation of the secondary to the place of the primary is idolatry.  If God is first in our lives, whatever falls into place for the secondary things (like food and clothing) will be welcomed as more than adequate and gratefully received. Just a thought that was somewhat apart from the preceding, but which I wanted to note as well.

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