Derek and Kristen remember the moment God confirmed their call to adopt internationally. After weeks of questioning, the title of the sermon that fateful Sunday morning read, “God Adopts Us into His Family.” Seven months later, after countless prayers, fundraising, and mountains of paperwork, they received confirmation that two beautiful children awaited them in Uganda. Let me introduce you to Viola and Gideon.
The journey had just begun. It would take nearly all of their emotional, mental, and financial resources, plus 73 days in Uganda attending court hearings and completing more paperwork before Derek and Kristen could bring their children home. Despite all it took, Kristen has said, “I love that adoption is the way I became a mother.” It has been nearly two years and Viola and Gideon are happy, healthy, and secure in their forever home. They have a new sense of belonging and they have received new identities.
God uses the imagery of adoption to help us understand the relationship He offers and desires to have with us.
In Romans 8:15-17 the apostle Paul says, “You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, ‘Abba! Father!’ as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His.”
Just like Derek and Kristen chose Gideon and Viola, GOD CHOSE YOU. Derek and Kristen went to great lengths to adopt. God has gone to even greater lengths – sacrificing the son He already had in order to make us His children too. Just like Viola and Gideon could do nothing to earn or deserve their parents’ love, we can do nothing to earn God’s love and we certainly do not deserve His grace. Just like Gideon and Viola received new identities, we receive new identities in Christ. And even though Viola and Gideon are adopted, they have the same rights as a biological child. Similarly, as God’s adopted beloved children, we receive the same inheritance as Christ.
God chose to adopt us! Our worth is found in our true identity as God’s beloved children! But like Viola and Gideon were once orphans, before we accept God’s grace and love, we are spiritual orphans. If you have ever been to an orphanage, you may have noticed that after the initial shyness has worn off, the children tend to compete with one another for whatever you have to offer. As spiritual orphans, we tend to do the same thing. In fact, Henri Nouwen says that we try to earn worth through what we do, what we have, or what others say about us.
Listen, true worth is only found in receiving our identity as God’s beloved. Look at 1 John 3:1-2, which says, “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us – He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now.”
Beloved means “dearly loved or favorite.” You are God’s favorite! So, my question is this: Are you living as a beloved child of God or are you still living with orphan mentality?
An orphan is hopeless. A daughter is hopeful. An orphan is unsure and anxious. A son is assured and confident. An orphan simply survives. A daughter thrives. An orphan competes. A son is content. An orphan has no father to provide a name and therefore creates his own identity from the outside and hopes no one finds out what is on the inside. A daughter receives her name from her daddy and confidently shares what’s inside with others.
The only source of identity and worth that truly satisfies is receiving our adoption into God’s family as His beloved child. The action step is actually not what we need to do, but what we need to stop doing. Stop trying to earn God’s love. Stop looking for worth or identity in what you do, what you have or what others say about you. Viola and Gideon are no longer nameless. They are now Viola and Gideon Kimball. Live confidently out of the name your Heavenly father has given you, the name Beloved.