I came across an interesting blog the other day, which you can find here. Jason Johnson is Chief Church Engagement Officer for The Arrow Foundation – an organization committed to equipping, resourcing and mobilizing the Church towards foster care and adoption around the country. His blog revolves around the central theme of adoption/foster care and their demonstration of the gospel. Most of his articles reach the same conclusion from a slightly different starting point. That conclusion is that adopting orphans is one of the ways the Church ought to demonstrate the gospel.
While telling the story of how he stood in a court room and testified that a little girl should be taken from the dangerous home of her parents (kingdom of darkness) and transferred to his home of love and safety (kingdom of light), he says the following, “The Gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by standing where Jesus would stand. This is the only explanation for me being in that courtroom that day.” He draws an analogy between the adoption of God’s people and the adoption of orphans. While we were yet sinners and dead in our transgressions, Christ testified on our behalf and claimed us as his own. We were taken from the kingdom of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom, into his family. This is the heart of the gospel; and, according to Johnson, the Church should demonstrate the gospel by doing for orphans what God has done for us.
I was blown away when read this. I had one of those “ah hah” moments. I finally saw something that had been staring me in the face for years. While reading through Johnson’s articles, it dawned on me that adoption is not the only way to demonstrate the truths of the gospel. If Johnson’s method of interpretation is sound, then it should apply universally. In other words, if we should be adopting orphans because God adopted us, then we should also do for those around us all the other things that God does for us. Obviously I am not talking about dying for people’s sins. Only Christ can do that. However, I believe there are two things we can do that, when combined with adoption, will fully demonstrate the whole of the gospel.
Johnson is right to start things off with adoption. This is the first phase in the process. Before time began, before we could testify for ourselves, Christ stood in the gap on our behalf and chose to die for our sins and transfer us to his kingdom through adoption. However, there is more to the gospel. Scripture tells us that Christ loves and cherishes those whom he has adopted. While we are children of God, we are also cherished by Christ as his beloved bride. According to Ephesians 5:25–27, Christ gave himself up for his bride, the Church, in order to cleanse her and sanctify her and to ultimately present to himself the people of his Church as a pure and spotless bride. He does not just adopt us. He also marries us and sanctifies us and makes us beautiful. Therefore, the gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by doing what Jesus would do. The men of the Church ought to marry all sorts of sordid women and cherish them as their own. As a physical demonstration of spiritual truths, the men of the Church should ensure that their women have designer cloths and professional makeup. Wives should be made to look stunningly beautiful. I won’t go so far as to say that all men must get married; but those who do get married must have as their primary goal the physical beautification of their wives, and those men who do not marry must support those who do. The Church is not called to simply state doctrinal truths. We must live them out in our lives. We must demonstrate these truths with our actions. Men must marry sordid women and make them beautiful.
The other action that I believe the Church should take might be a bit more controversial, but I think it is necessary in order to tell the whole gospel with our actions. God has adopted us, so we should adopt orphans. Christ has taken us as his bride in order to purify and sanctify us, so we should take sordid women as wives and make them beautiful. One promise for which we still wait is our resurrection from the dead. God will raise us to everlasting life and clothe us with the righteousness of Christ. As a demonstration of this aspect of the gospel, we should do something for dead people. I am just thinking out loud here, but maybe we should dig up some old bones and put new cloths on them. This would signify both the resurrection and God’s people being clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The gospel compels, albeit demands, that we be willing to stand for what Jesus stood for by doing what Jesus will do. For the sake of the gospel, we must do something for dead people. We, the people of the Church, should empty graves and ensure that the dead are brought forth and given new cloths.
The gospel is not something we can merely proclaim. We have to do the gospel. My ideas, based upon Johnson’s method of biblical interpretation, will demonstrate the whole gospel to the world so that they can see it. The Church is called to adopt orphans, marry lots of sordid women, and dig up graves. This is the only way that the world will come to see the glory of the gospel.
If you take issue with any one of these propositions, then I urge you to reconsider the biblical and logical basis for all three of them, including the first one.