Matt Carter speaks on James 1:27
This is a three part series called Adopted. There are three things to learn from this series.
• The glorious truth that those of us who are in Christ Jesus have been adopted into the family of God.
• Our response to this glorious truth.
• The great cost in reflecting this adoptive love of God.
You will never understand the depth of God’s love for you until you know the kind of love that He has for you. The way that He loves you is the way that a good father loves his son.
This is difficult for some people to understand. For some of us, it’s not an image that we’re familiar with, because we didn’t have a good father. For some us, we haven’t had children yet. So we don’t know what it’s like to look at your newborn child for the very first time and understand the intense feelings that you have for them.
To give you a correct view of how a good father looks at his son, how he feels toward his son, please watch this video.
It’s about a couple within the Austin Stone who adopted a child. We walked alongside them through this journey and were there to capture the moment they finally were able to meet their son for the first time.
While watching this video please keep a few things in mind:
• Notice how they feel towards their son in the moment they first see and hold him.
• Notice the depth and intensity of emotion and love they have for him. A child that has never done anything to earn such affection.
• Consider this is how the Lord feels about and loves you.
Did you see the look on the dad’s face? It should start to sink in. This is how the Lord looks at you.
He doesn’t look at your sin and become disappointed in you. Thanks to your brother Jesus, you are holy and blameless before God our Father. He looks at you like that father did his son.
Scripture says God is love. His name is Love. If a sinful, earthly father can feel that kind of love towards an adopted son, how much more the perfect, heavenly Father will love you, His son.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction... James 1:27 (ESV, emphasis added)
This verse should start to make sense to us in light of how much God loves us, as His adoptive sons and daughters.
The Greek word for religion is usually translated as worship. So the verse literally reads like this...
Worship that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction... James 1:27 (ESV, emphasis added)
As the eyes of the Lord move to and fro about the earth, there is something that He sees as pure and undefiled worship. It’s not the posture you have as you sing worship songs at church. He doesn’t see the guy who has his hands raised while singing out loud as pure and undefiled worship. He doesn’t see the sorority girl who leads her Bible study every week and hasn’t sinned all weekend as pure and undefiled worship. That is not how He defines it.
God sees the body of Christ engaging in the care of the orphan, as calls that pure and undefiled worship.
Without the doctrine of God’s adoption, this verse makes no sense. It would look like a random verse on social justice. We could assume that caring for the orphan is just the ‘right thing to do’.
But when we realize that we were once spiritual orphans, but God moved heaven and earth to adopt us and bring us into His family, we should feel the significance and importance of this verse.
We, as adopted children, should engage in the care of the orphan. The verse makes all the sense in the world now. When we do, it’s displaying to the world what the love of God looks like.
When you’re adopting a child, you are given the opportunity to explain to the world that God didn’t just forgive us our sins, but adopted us into His family. Your way of displaying His love to the world is by adopting a child.
Adoption and orphan care is not an act of social justice.
Adoption and orphan care is the display of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He saved you and then adopted you. You’re showing the world what that looks like.
Responding with Love
One of the ways you can know the love of the Father is in you is when the love of the Father comes out of you.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:1418 (ESV)
This passage is very straightforward. If the love of the Father is not coming out of you, then you are remaining in death, you are still spiritually dead.
If you have the world’s goods and see a need, yet do nothing about it, you can’t say that you have the love of God in you?
The adoptive love of the Father needs to come out of us and not just with our mouth, but in our actions.
Love as Action
In light of all these truths:
• God’s adoptive love for us as His sons and daughters
• Pure and undefiled worship is caring for the orphan
• The proof that God’s love resides in us is shown by His love coming out of us.
Why are there orphans?
In 2011 there were 1,456 children in the foster care system in Austin. 1,456 children have been removed from their homes and are now living with strangers due to neglect or abuse of some kind. Of those, there are 244 adoptable children in Austin right now.
Why are we not doing something about this?
There are over 500 churches in Austin, twice the number of orphans. There are thousands of people who claim the name of Christ in Austin, but still there are 244 adoptable children waiting to be adopted. Shouldn’t those numbers be the other way around? Shouldn’t we, the former orphans, be the ones lined up to adopt?
Parents should be lined up waiting for orphans. Not children lined up waiting for parents.
On an average Sunday at the Austin stone, there are about 7,000 people that attend. If one out of forty of us adopted a child in Austin, there wouldn’t be a single orphan in the city.
What a great way to display the glory and love of God to the city.
147 million orphans are in the world. It’s called the global orphan crisis.
There are around 2 billion Christians in the world.
If one out of every fifteen Christians were to adopt, there wouldn’t be a single orphan in the world.
What a great way to display the glory and love of God to the world.
Caring for the Orphan
God is calling some of us to engage in the actual adoption of these orphans. Whether you’re single, married, married with children or an empty nester.
Please consider praying.
You don’t have to start the whole adoption process, just pray. Ask if this is the way He wants you to display His adoptive love to the world.
God is not calling all of us to adopt. However, He is most definitely calling ALL of us to engage in the caring of the orphan. That’s what we just learned from James 1:27.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction... James 1:27 (ESV)
If you’re not called to adopt, then you have to ask how you’re going to care for the orphan.
There are plenty of ways to help and to care for the orphan without actually adopting.
• You can help people who have adopt to take care of their children.
• You can give money to help people pay for their adoptions.
• You can do respite care, taking care of children in the foster care system.
• You can volunteer with the kids program at church.