My only understanding of adoption came from what I saw in movies – Annie (of course), Meet the Robinsons, Angels in the Outfield. And then in March, I adopted my pup from the local animal shelter.
But none of these images adequately depict what it means to be adopted by God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15
Abba in this verse (as well in Galatians) is an informal, Aramaic term for Father that conveys a sense of intimacy, like Daddy or Papa. As John MacArthur put it, it connotes tenderness, dependence and a relationship free of fear or anxiety.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – Galatians 4:4-5
Adoption – bringing someone who is the offspring of another into one’s own family
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 this purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6
And MacArthur kills it again with his commentary: “Human parents can bestow their love, resources and inheritance on an adopted child, but not their own distinct characteristics. But God miraculously gives his own nature to those who have trusted in Christ. He makes them his children in the image of his divine Son, giving them not just Christ’s riches and blessings but also his very nature.
I’m currently reading Jo Saxton’s The Dream of You and she gave a history lesson about adoption and what it meant for those back in Bible days.
“Adoption was a common practice in the Greco-Roman world. It usually happened when a Roman citizen who had no male heir would choose someone, often a slave, to receive the inheritance and continue the family legacy. When a slave was adopted in this way, the former slave’s entire world was changed. He renounced all connection to his old life and family. His debts were written off. The signed papers meant that the new father by adoption had complete control over every part of his son’s life. He also had to look after his son. An adopted child could never be disowned. Gentile Christian congregations knew that adoption redeemed a person’s life, restoring the identity that had been stolen by slavery. Instead of living under an owner, a person received a father and a family.”
That puts this whole adoption thing into a different perspective. No longer do I just think, “How lucky am I to have been chosen to be made His daughter,” because it’s so much more than that.
My entire world has changed because of Him. I have hope because of Him. I have joy because of Him. I have a purpose because of Him. I don’t have to continue to run on the hamster wheel that this earth says I have to do to be important because of Him.
My old life is gone.
My debts are written off. I couldn’t pay them. Not now. Not ever. But Jesus paid them for me.
And now God has complete control over my life. Not because He’s super controlling and micromanaging. But because He’s good and has nothing but good intentions for me (Romans 8:28).
He has redeemed me, freed me from captivity by payment of ransom (aka Jesus). He’s released me from all blame and debt which is exactly what it means to ay that he’s freed me from the consequences of my sin.
And He’s restored my identity. In Him, I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).