There are two giant theological words that most of us do not think or talk about often enough: transcendence and immanence. But they have everything to do—and I mean everything—with a life that overflows with satisfaction, contentment and joy, regardless of our circumstances.
When we speak of God’s transcendence, we are referring to His otherness, to the fact that He is above and outside not just this globe we call the earth but the universe as well. To call God transcendent is to say that He is in a class all His own. There is no one like Him in power and glory and wonder and beauty and holiness, etc. Think about it like this: God is so transcendent that a list of his transcendent attributes would extend far above and beyond our little blue planet.
Immanence, on the other hand, speaks of closeness, nearness. To be immanent is to be within creation, not outside it. Immanence is about proximity, relationship, and togetherness.
At first look, it seems that transcendence and immanence are completely incompatible. How can something be “entirely above and outside creation,” as Michael Horton puts it, and yet be “within creation” and intimately related to it? Can you say conundrum?
What makes this even more of a conundrum, and a desperate one at that, is that there is no ultimate satisfaction, contentment or enduring joy for us unless there is someone who in himself is both transcendent and immanent at the same time. Enter the Good News: the otherness of transcendence and the likeness of immanence fully and eternally embraced in Jesus.
The good news of the Gospel, and the good news of our adoption in Christ for that matter, is that in Jesus transcendence and immanence perfectly and fully meet. In Jesus we find both the wonder and awesomeness of the eternal and the tenderness and kindness of one who was made like us “in every respect” (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15) without ceasing to be the transcendent God for even a nanosecond. That, let me tell you (and me!), is the miracle of miracles. Only a God who can be both transcendent and immanent like this is someone who can save and satisfy eternally. Only a God like this can be our brother and give to us a loving Father who is like no other.
If you do not decide to make transcendence and immanence a part of your functional vocabulary today, at least look to Jesus today (and everyday) as the Lord and Savior of your heart’s satisfaction. In other words, spend time rejoicing in the wonder of your adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.
Northwest Arkansas was the home to Idea Camp (IC) February 25-26. With this year’s theme of Orphan Care, IC gathered hundreds of people and dozens of organizations all devoted to helping end the orphan crisis in our world. IC was also gracious enough to serve as the platform for Seeds Adoption to be officially announced to the orphan care community.
On a stage filled with leaders from The Idea Camp, Kidmia, Together for Adoption, The Gladney Center for Adoption, Help End Local Poverty (HELP), The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), and The Rooted Church, Seeds Adoption was boldly announced as a collaborative effort among them all.
A big thank you to Idea Camp for platforming Seed Adoption and for bringing together so many great people and organizations for the common purpose of caring for orphans by the power of the gospel and through the local church. A few more pics from a great weekend…
We would love to have you join us for this Christian Alliance for Orphans’ webinar!
Asking me to talk about the theology of adoption and its implications for the global orphan crisis is like asking a lion if he’d like to eat some red meat. I don’t even have to consider whether or not it’s something I’d “like” to do. So, when Mike Rusch asked me to lead a workshop on the theology of adoption at !deacamp, all I had to do before giving him my answer was to see if I had those dates open, which I did.
One of the main reasons why talking about this subject is such a no-brainer for me is due to what I think theology is. For the Christian, theology isn’t an add-on or a “take it or leave it” activity (Read “Do we really have time for theology when orphans need our help now?” – Part 1 & Part 2). Theology is life with God, and life with God is theology.
So, it is with much anticipation that I head to !ideacamp tomorrow to talk about this critical topic: “The Theology of Adoption and Pushing Toward Trinitarian Solutions to the Global Orphan Crisis.” Here is my workshop’s description: Our redemption and the renewal of all creation has a very definite trinitarian shape. By the gospel God has opened up his eternal triune life to us and will one day give us a renewed creation for our eternal home. This workshop will explore how the trinitarian shape of redemption and renewal should inform our care for orphans.
Kindle announced that it is now possible to follow an author’s notes on his/her own book. This new feature now allows for authors to interact with Kindle readers. So, if you have purchased Reclaiming Adoption on your Kindle, you can follow me and read and interact with my notes.
Seed Adoption is a pastoral training workshop that brings together influential pastors of evangelical churches from across a country to discuss (1) the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children, (2) a Biblical perspective centered on the gospel, adoption, and the local church, and(3) appropriate strategies to bring holistic and lasting change to the lives of orphaned children, all for the glory of God.
We believe that the gospel, when understood and applied, must work through the local church and in the lives of Christians to effect such change. Therefore, in order to help address the orphan crisis, the Seed Adoption training aims to create, maintain, and encourage a national conversation with the indigenous church.
Three two-day workshops will be held in June 2011 in 3 strategic cities: Addis Ababa (Ethiopiaʼs capital city), Nazareth (capital of the Oromiya Region), and Awassa (Capital of Southern Nations Nationalities and Regional State). A total of 500 people will attend the workshops: 250 influential senior pastors and their wives. All 9 of Ethiopiaʼs regional states will be represented.
YOU can help bring local adoption to Ethiopian churches. Just $70 covers ALL expenses for a local pastor and his wife to attend the Seed Adoption training. Click here for more.
We are praying that these workshops are a first step toward accomplishing a number of goals:
+ Create common understanding on the extent of the orphan crisis in Ethiopia and jointly identify the major root causes and consequences
+ Through biblical and theological training, deepen our understanding of Godʼs heart for the orphan as well as our biblical responsibility to holistically care for and adopt orphaned children
+ Design a joint strategy to address the orphan crisis at the national level through the cooperation of evangelical churches
+ Develop effective strategies that facilitate holistic care and local adoption of orphans into Christ-loving families at a local, grassroots level
+ Build a common forum of evangelical churches to share information, experiences, and best practices for sustainable orphan care and support
+ Raise financial and non-financial resources locally for orphan care and adoption
In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 out of every 8 children is an orphan. Of the 143 million orphans worldwide, more live in Ethiopia than any other country in the world. Just twice the size of Texas, it is home to five million orphaned children. While international adoption from Ethiopia has increased in recent years, at the current rate it would take 5 million families, $125 billion, and 2,500 years to solve the Ethiopian orphan crisis.
Even with 19% of the population being evangelical and 14 million members attending 30,000 local churches across the nation (a movement that is growing by 8.5% every year), there is no significant practice of local adoption in Ethiopia. The primary solution embraced thus far by the local church has been limited to child sponsorship. There is a lack of awareness concerning the orphan crisis, a lack of appropriate working strategies and systems to address it, a shifting of responsibilities to governmental programs and NGOs, limited resources, and a lack of faithful integration between the message of the gospel and its outworking through the local church and into the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children.
This is due in part to the lack of training available for the leaders of these churches. Fifty-two percent of church leaders have less than a year of training after graduating high school, 92% of which is not related to ministry or church leadership. There is only one graduate-level seminary in Ethiopia, and only 20% of denominations have access to it. In a country with 30,000 local evangelical pastors, it enrolls around 100 students per year. Many serve their churches for little or no income, and such training is simply unattainable.
Will you prayerfully consider joining us in this opportunity to serve Ethiopia’s churches and orphans? Learn more about the opportunity you have to join with us.
Have you seen the free 54-page Reclaiming Adoption Study Guide that we are providing? This study guide is worth having whether or not you have purchased the book. Each study is loaded with thought-provoking quotations that will certainly encourage you as you seek to live in the reality of your adoption in Christ.
If your church, small group, or adoption/orphan care ministry would like to use the study guide to work through the book, print copies of Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father are available for $7.45 each for 6–50 copies. You can purchase them here. Click on the image below to download the free study guide.
“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!’” ~Galatians 4:4-6
One of the questions I am frequently asked is “what can we do to solve the global orphan crisis?” My answer to that question used to be long and involved. Now it’s simple: give priority to the “Who” question (Who is the Trinity? Who is Jesus? Who is the Spirit of adoption? etc) over the “What” question.
In addressing the great problems of his day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued that priority must be given to the “Who” question. Bonhoeffer knew that if we give priority to the “What” question over the “Who” question, our tendency will be to think primarily in pragmatic terms (i.e., what works) and, as a result, limit ourselves to superficial solutions and endanger the sustainability of our efforts.
The “Who” question is eternal while the “What” question is temporal. Our world’s orphan crisis had a beginning. The Trinity does not. The global orphan crisis will one day come to an end. Jesus will not. We will always be asking the “Who” question. That’s not the case with the “What” question. In addition, the eternal God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has in Himself the solutions to every human crisis. Since our Triune God is Himself the solution, we will find ourselves moving toward a solution as we answer the “Who” question.
Giving priority to the “Who” question, though, does not mean that we care less about the “What” question. It simply means that the “What” question should always flow out of and never move away from who God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only when we give priority to the “Who” question will we find that we are moving toward a genuine solution with sustainable efforts.
Open to all Summit attendees – To attend this seminar, add this event when you register for the Summit.
Time: Wednesday, May 11th, 1:00pm – 4:30pm
Price: $15.00 (includes copy of Reclaiming Adoption)
Speakers: Dan Cruver, Together for Adoption; Jason Kovacs, ABBA Fund
Join us as we go deeper into God’s story of adoption. God’s work of adoption is a story that encompasses all of human history, from its pre-temporal beginnings when God predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to the eventual renewal of the heavens and the earth. From the Apostle Paul’s perspective, adoption is the story that makes sense of the universe, that gives our lives and the existence of all creation ultimate meaning. This half-day pre-Summit event will provide in-depth training in the theology of adoption and its implications for daily Christian living and the care of orphans. Please join us as we consider how to live bolder, more intentional lives for the glory of God and for the sake of orphans through the rediscovery, the daily fresh discovery, of God’s extravagant love for us.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s soaked with gospel encouragement, and is a great primer on the doctrine of adoption and its implications for the life of the follower of Christ.
One of my favorite scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (the book not the movie) takes place in the land of Rivendell before Frodo and Sam continue their dangerous journey to the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the ring. Tolkien writes:
Such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song (The Fellowship of the Ring, 287).
Every time I read those words I’m reminded of what God has given us in Christ. The good news of our adoption through Jesus Christ is of such a quality that the past, present, or imagined future, “good or ill, are not forgotten, but cease to have any power over the present.” We could write pages of application on this. If we are prone to worry about tomorrow, fear people or circumstances, or be paralyzed by regret or plagued by guilt, we need to hear afresh the good news of our adoption. Only the good news of what God has done for us in Christ can free us to be “content with each day as it [comes], taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.”
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