Four reasons fostering and adoption are in the DNA of the Church - part three

Reason three: Because it explains, expresses and celebrates who we are.

I truly believe that caring for vulnerable children is right at the heartbeat of the character of God, and is therefore the calling of His Church. Fostering and adoption is part of our DNA because of many reasons, but here are four of the most significant

Reason three: Because it explains, expresses and celebrates who we are

The apostle John famously declared that ‘We love because he first loved us' (1 John 4.19). What better way to demonstrate the love we have received from God than to express it? What better way to celebrate the love we have received from God than to show it to others?

Given that we received this love when we were at our most vulnerable, and God extended His love to the point that He adopted us into His family as His sons and daughters, this love is intrinsically connected to the sphere of fostering and adoption.

As He loves us when we are vulnerable, so shall we love the vulnerable. As He adopted us, so shall we adopt.

Of course, not every individual or family can directly foster or adopt, but as the whole Church we can all be a part of welcoming vulnerable children and those who care for them, extending the love of God in this way.

In his article 'Adoption in the Bible' [1], David Bartlett makes a number of key points about how the image of adoption and adoption language feature in the Bible:

  • Adoption is a powerful image for God’s activity with humankind because it makes clear that membership in God’s family is always the result of God’s activity
  • Adoption is a powerful image because adoption transcends the boundaries and barriers set by biological and ethnic identity - Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free – all can be adopted and all become part of the same family
  • Adoption language often implies that the adoptive parent gives a new name to the newly adopted child, which reminds us that our identity is found in God, rather than the identities we give ourselves
  • Adoption language points both to the present reality of God’s grace and to the future promise of participation in God’s glory

For the biblical writers, the image of adoption and adoption language was the norm for describing who we are before God.

One of the wonderful things about the renewed sense of energy in the Church for recapturing the language of adoption is that it is helping us see more clearly what has always been there: we are adopted children of God.

The more we are attuned to this aspect of our identity the more normal it will be to move from our vertical understanding of adoption theology, knowing that God has adopted us, to the horizontal expression, which asks the question: what is God calling us to do on behalf of vulnerable children in our midst?

Read part one of the series Read part two of the series Read part four of the series

[1] Bartlett, D.L. ‘Adoption in the Bible’ in M.J. Bunge, T.E. Fretheim and B.R. Gaventa (eds.) The Child in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. (pp. 375-398)

Tim teaches Biblical Studies and Mission at Redcliffe College in Gloucester and has a PhD in the Old Testament. He leads the College’s newly established Fostering, Adoption and the Church research project and serves on Home for Good’s Council of Reference.

This series was originally published on Fostering, Adoption and the Church in October 2015.

Author:
Dr Tim Davy


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