Today we filed in court to officially adopt Derrick. I long for the day when this process is complete, and the legal institutions of the world acknowledge what we already know in our hearts…that Derrick is our son, is Kaleb and Micah’s brother. Is a Soard. As I look forward to and anticipate that day, I already know what my reaction is going to be. I will be happy, I will be relieved for the anxiety and stress that this process has brought our whole family, I will feel complete as a father and as a family.
What we will not be doing is patting ourselves on the back and saying that today we completed our Christian duty. On that day that our family is complete it will not be a day of having done something nice for an orphan child, but a day of having our own hearts restored and our family made whole.
I feel like this is how God sees us and our relationship to Him. I do not think that God extends His grace out of sympathy for our broken state or the messes we make of our lives, but out of a desire to restore His family to each other and to make His heart whole.
“All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children.” ~ Romans 8:14-16
Adoption, being family, is a matter of spirit and heart, not of duty and obligation; a matter of love, and action flowing out of that love, instead of a desire for acknowledgement and thanks (just ask any mom). So what happens when we extend our family…what happens when we see the church body as our brothers and sisters in Christ and all of humanity as fellow creations of God? How does our role as a church change when we understand the extent to which we are all one as the human race? What does our outreach, our judgment, our mission trips look like when we see these actions not as duties, activities, programs, or experiences, but as family events, relationships to be built, and people to be loved? What happens when we stop looking for acknowledgement? Can you imagine with me a weekly short-term trip where we enter into someone else’s life, community, home and it because not a new profile picture on Facebook, but a catalyst for change in how we live our daily lives.
Think about what kind of childhood Derrick would have if we saw him as part of our Christian duty instead of part of our family? How do people view us as a church universal when we approach missions as a duty and not as a way to be reunited with our family? We all get tired of duty, and expect someone else to take over after we have served our term…but family is forever and love never fails. This is I think what Bishop Ntambo was trying to tell me when he gave me the advice as a missionary to stay in love with the people.
So what do you think? Are our challenges in living as one large, extended family a challenge of hear or action, faith or method? Can we love others as part of our family, and if we can how do we show that to them in a way that means something to them and not just to us?