This Sunday, we begin our six-week orphan care Bible study. We will be using my favorite book, A Passion for the Fatherless, by Daniel J. Bennett. The study is not just for those who are considering adopting but for anyone who desires to think through how they can help our church care for the fatherless.
As I was preparing for the study this week, I read an article by Dan Cruver, the director of Together for Adoption, that has implications for our ministry to orphans and others who are in need. In “Caring for Orphans as the Exiles We Are,” Cruver writes:
One of the challenges for Christians in the Western world is that we are often guilty of trying to dry up our profound “sense of exile” with the nonabsorbent paper towels of the incomplete joys of this world. That’s not to say that it is wrong for Christians to enjoy themselves in the here-and-now. God gives His children many good gifts to enjoy now with gratitude in our hearts. But our here-and-now enjoyment was never meant to be the way we deal with our deep ache of exile. When we deal with our “sense of exile” by using God’s good gifts to self-medicate, we’ll find ourselves moving away from the world’s most needy rather than to them. Self-medicating people are not easily mobilized for self-sacrificial service.
The reality is that all Christians are in exile, whether we recognize it or not. Eden has been lost. As a result, we are exiles in the here-and-now (1 Peter 1:1). The period of time in which we live as exiles is deeply marked by suffering, brokenness and unrest (Romans 8:18). The presence of 163,000,000 orphaned and vulnerable children in the world is irrefutable evidence of this very fact.
Cruver goes on to observe that the gospel provides the answer to the longing we feel as exiles. “Only when we rest in what Jesus has already done to one day bring us back home (Romans 8:19-23) are we able to move toward our world’s most needy now.”
My hope is that our church continues to embrace “exile living.” A worldly discontentment seeks fulfillment in material things. Godly discontentment finds hope in the gospel then proclaims that hope to others. To think through how the gospel impacts our ministry to the fatherless, plan on joining me this Sunday at 9:00 A.M.