With Black Friday coming up, I have something I'd like to say: Things that are valuable are also costly. In one way that may be obvious, but we often don't think of it that way. In fact for many people, the whole point of Black Friday is to get more than a great deal. What people really want is to feel like they got a higher value than what they paid for.
As followers of Jesus, we have to believe that our relationship with Him is the thing of greatest value in our lives that has ever been. This is why the man in the parable sold all he had to buy the field that contained the buried treasure [Matthew 13:44]. He was willing to give up everything else in his life (no matter how valuable it seemed) in order to get this thing that he knew had greater value.
Our conviction of late is that following Jesus is costly. We can join a country club in the likeness of a church and feel okay about ourselves, or we can try to pursue to Gospel in a fuller way, and a costlier way. But here's the thing: Values are really only values if we....value them. And thinking something has value means that you are willing to pay the price, even if it is hard and even if the price is steep. If it's valuable enough, we find a way.
For us, adopting is about following a Call despite the cost (not just monetarily but in time and mental energy as well) . We don't assume that it is everyone's call. But if we truly value Jesus and what he values, then we cannot deny that following is costly, and we should be willing to pay the price no matter what. We also know that these children, made in the image of God, have immense and real value. Every child does, and every child deserves a loving home. We cannot solve that problem for every one of the millions of orphans worldwide, but we are trying to solve it here, for these kids. And that value means we are willing to work through the cost and the risk.
A prayer of our heart (and it's a little bit of a scary thing to pray for, I'll admit) sounds something like this : God, what are you asking me/us to do in this season, even if it is hard? The answer to that prayer is why we are writing this, why we are trying to adopt, and why you are reading it here.
"Lord, may we always be willing to value you enough to pay the cost of following you."
What’s interesting about adoption is that it represents so much of what the gospel is about. God makes a promise to humanity that, through a repentant heart, He will welcome anyone into his family. Even though they were once strangers, and even enemies to Him, he still is willing to welcome them forever. And there is no limit to His love or His invitation. And because He loves this way, He wants us to love others in that way, too.
One thing that has struck me of late is that, by adopting, we are literally bringing strangers into our home. Of course, there are lots of circumstances in which you might welcome a stranger into your home. But, when you do and they have stayed for a little while...they leave. However, by adopting, we will be welcoming strangers that will never leave.
Leviticus 19:33-34 says “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The Bible has a lot to say about orphans and about how and why it’s important to care for them. What’s interesting to me is that you can care for orphans in many different ways. You can create social programs, give money to a charity that cares for orphans, sponsor a child’s education, or maybe dig a well in a community where many orphans reside. You can also support someone else and help them successfully adopt. All of these are wonderful ways to love and serve orphans, and everyone's call is different. One can certainly care for orphans without actually welcoming them into their home. But the fact remains that we are all called to care for orphans.
This Leviticus passage is a little different, and interestingly more invasive in its implication. There is an implication is that when there is a sojourner, you should welcome him into your home (a common ancient practice...and one that maybe we should do more to emulate in our culture!). There is also the demand to treat the one who is not a native just as those who are natives. The direct implication here for adoptive families is clear; you need to love and respect your adopted kids the same way you love your bios.
But thirdly, there is this beautiful piece of acknowledgment that God knows all about non-natives being in a foreign land. In fact, he had His People become strangers in a foreign land in Egypt so that his purposes could be fulfilled. He used a group of Strangers to do his work. He wanted His People to have the opportunity to be strangers - maybe, for the very purpose of inspiring them to be kind to strangers, foreigners, and those who “don’t belong;” both physical, geographical strangers as well as spiritual outsiders (gentiles).
Right now, they are strangers. With time, and God's love and guidance, they will no longer feel like that. And this is one of many reasons we are excited that they will be coming into our home! However, of this much I am convinced: no matter how long it takes for them to not feel like strangers, we are called - a Holy and Divine calling, no less - to treat them with all the love and care we would any other child in our home. The fact that we haven't met them yet, or that we won't speak the same language when they arrive, or that they are going to disrupt everything about our family rhythms forever, bears no weight on how much we are to love them. We are to love them. And that is really what matters.