“I don’t think I’m called to that.”
I cannot tell you, as a pastor, how many times I’ve heard this statement in a number of different conversations revolving around many differing topics. Lately, this seems to be the buzz answer anytime I talk with people about orphan care whether it be foster care or adoption. Almost all churchgoers I talk to respect and admire families who have taken huge steps of faith to adopt orphan children into their home but when I turn the conversation to them personally I often end up with the same contemplative answer: “I’m not sure I’m called to that.”
So, is this a legit answer? Is caring for the orphan a calling? Can we, with good conscience, say, “I am not called to care for the orphan”? Let’s gaze into God’s Word and see what He says about this.
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)
Think about these words for a minute. God could have said that pure religion was to give, serve, pray, love, and many other essential things to the faith but He didn’t! God put at the center of religion two things: looking after orphans and widows and personal purity in an evil world.
Caring for the orphan is not the task of some elite few, but for ALL of the children of God. Saying we aren’t called to care for the orphan is like saying “I’m not called to show mercy because it’s not my spiritual gift.” We cannot use this sort of “Christian-ese” language and thinking to excuse us from obedience to the commands of Jesus.
Jesus states in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.” The way we respond to the afflicted, the hungry, and the oppressed is directly connected with our identity in being Christians. I believe our identity shapes and determines our actions and responses to the world around us. What do I mean by this?
Galatians 4:4-7 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
The truth of the gospel is that we were all spiritual orphans, not having a hope of redemption with the forever family of God. But God, being rich in mercy, adopted us as His children through the miraculous work of Christ. We are not wayward, we are not slaves, we are not orphans, but we are now children of the Most High God. Let that truth sink deep into your heart today. You deserved nothing but the wrath and judgment of God, but He gave up His biological son to suffer greatly and take your punishment in order that you could be adopted into the forever family of God.
The gospel, and only the gospel, will motivate our hearts to respond to the orphan in a mighty way. Please hear me today: I am not saying that every single family is going to foster or adopt children into their home. However, I cannot be satisfied with looking at the over 300 foster children locally, 100,000 plus children awaiting adoption in the United States, and over 150 million orphans worldwide, and not respond in a big way as the church.
I think we often wait for God to give us some miraculous call to adopt or foster. It is as if we are just sitting, waiting for God to wake us up in the middle of the night and speak audibly to us this certain “call” for our lives. The truth is that He has already told us what to do. We don’t have to wait any longer. He has commanded us to care for the orphan. This is indeed what true religion looks like.
So, the question then for our lives as believers is not whether we are called to care for the orphan or not. The question is simply, “What role will I play?” From making a meal, sponsoring a child overseas, or actually adopting a child into your family, you can play an integral role in caring for the orphan.
We would love to steer you in the direction you feel is best for you and your family. Please visit warrenbaptist.org/orphancare for more information.
Missional Community Pastor
Warren Baptist Church