Providing gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care.


[Read this post only if you're willing to risk mental exhaustion!]

How would you explain a God-centered approach to orphan care? Would who God is as Trinity factor significantly into your explanation? This is an issue with which I wish more orphan advocates would wrestle. I am convinced that a God-centered approach to orphan care is a Trinitarian approach, and vice versa. The reality of the Trinity should inform how churches approach orphan care, and radically so. Let me briefly lead you through my thinking on this issue.

Scripture teaches that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes, it is true. God is Creator. But it is also true that God has not always been Creator. Even as there was a time when creation was not (an eternity past, for that matter!), there was a time when God created. But God has always been Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Michael Reeves has written in his upcoming book, “We should not . . . set out in our understanding of God by thinking of God primarily as creator (naming him ‘from His works only’) – that . . . would make him dependent on his creation. Our definition of God must be built on the Son who reveals him. And when we do that, starting with the Son, we find that the first thing to say about God is, as it says in the [Nicene] creed, ‘We believe in one God, the Father’” (The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son, and Spirit).

God is eternally a triune communion of Persons. This is God’s fundamental identity. As the eternal triune God, the Father has eternally loved the Son, the Son has enterally loved the Father, and the Spirit has eternally been the personal bond of that communion. If this is true, all of our thinking about God and Christianity should begin with and continue within this fundamental reality: the one God is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Together, the Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy eternal belonging.

The good news of Gospel is that God’s gracious provision of adoption is the activity by which He enlarges the circle of communion that has eternally existed between the three Persons of the Trinity! God the Father sent forth His Son into the world (Galatians 4:4-5) that He might bring us to share in the loving communion that He forever enjoys with His eternal Son. Through the work of His Son, the Father graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between Him and His Son.  It is through union with Jesus, as T. F. Torrance writes, that “we are drawn by the Spirit of the Father and of the Son into the Communion of the Father and the Son” and given the gift of belonging—family belonging.  In Christ God comes to those who are without home and hope in this world (Ephesians 2:12) and meets their deepest needs by placing them (us) in an existing Family relationship (the eternal love of the Father and the Son).

Given these truths about the Trinity, how should the reality of the Trinity inform the church’s approach to orphan care? As Christians, we believe that every aspect of our lives is to be worked out from a center in God and not from a center in ourselves. In other words, as Christians, we are called to think from a God-centered vantage point and not from a man-centered one.  Since God is triune, therefore, we must think from a Trinity-centered perspective. “In practice, however,” writes Gerrit Dawson, “we more often [think] as unitarians, rarely thinking through what the tri-unity of God means for our life together, our worship and our mission” (Given and Sent in One Love: The True Church of Jesus Christ, p. 23). I’m convinced that the reality and truth of the Trinity should push us more and more toward finding church-centered, family-based, family-friendly solutions for the global orphan crisis. God’s solution for our hopeless and homeless condition as fallen human beings was to give us family belonging.

Shouldn’t this inform how the church thinks about orphan care, whether the orphans we care for are legally adoptable or not?

In part 2 we will consider ways that this God-centered approach should inform our practice of orphan care.

« « The Naked and Vulnerable God | A God-Centered Approach to Orphan Care (Part 2) » »

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