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


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I’ve written this series on a God-centered approach to orphan care for those of us who don’t automatically think in Trinitarian ways when considering how best to care for orphans in their distress (I mention two Trinitarian ways in part 2). My default mode is not to be Trinitarian in my approach to orphan care. But if Scripture’s teaching on the Trinity is to be the fountainhead not only of every biblical doctrine but also of every aspect of the Christian way of life (The Christian doctrine of God: one being three persons, p. 31), then we must strive to be Trinitarian in how we approach caring for the fatherless.

So, let me conclude this series by suggesting two additional ways the Trinity should shape our care for orphans.

1. Don’t think project. Think relationship.
I do not know anyone who knowingly views orphan care as project management. In the online age, we have the ability to include pictures of orphaned and vulnerable children when we blog about them. One of the reasons many of us include these pictures is so that we are not tempted to view these children as projects. We wish to remind ourselves that we are caring for real people—children who laugh, cry, and long for safe, permanent and loving relationships. Orphans are not projects. They’re people who were created for relationships. But no matter how good our intentions may be, if we are not approaching orphan care through the lens of the Trinity with intentionality, chances are that somewhere along the line we will be tempted to view the complex work of orphan care as project management.

So, how does the Trinity help us think relationship and not project? When God the Father set out to redeem us through Jesus Christ, He never lost sight of His missional objective: to bring us into His loving communion with the Son. Redemption was never a “project” to God. It was God making room for others within His Trinitarian communion. Take Triune love out of redemption as its fountainhead and destination and redemption becomes mere project management (see the highlighted section of this blog post to see the difference between Trinitarian love and the “love” of a single-person god). Trinitarian love treats others as persons-in-relationship and not as projects-to-be-managed.

2. Don’t care for orphans or adopt one in order to meet some need within you.
A single-person god creates out of need. He either creates because he needs someone to rule or because he’s tired of being alone. In either case, a single-person god chooses to create because he’s needy. But a Triune God—a God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is a God who is not relationally needy. A Triune God is a God who has known relational fullness and perfection for all of eternity. A Triune God creates merely because He desires to do so. He creates (and redeems) out of fullness, not neediness.

The God who has called us “to visit orphans and widows in their distress” is Trinity. He is One and yet at the same time is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, when God calls Himself a “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5), He is not revealing to us that He’s needy. God doesn’t care for the fatherless because there is some need within Him that He’s trying to meet. No, God is a “Father to the fatherless” because as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God has always loved another. As Trinity, God the Father has always loved His Son and God the Son has always loved His Father. Or, to look at it from a different angle, as Trinity, the Son of God has never been fatherless. He has always known and enjoyed the love of a father. If you look at the very center of eternal existence, what you find is that the eternal Son has always had a Father. That’s at the very bottom of reality. Fatherlessness, then, is the result of the Fall of man. Sons (and daughters) were meant to have fathers. A fatherless child cuts against the very grain of “the way things ought to be.” God cares for the fatherless because He has always been a Father and no child should be without the protection and love of a parent.

If the God who calls us “to visit orphans and widows in their distress” is Triune, then we are not being very godlike if we care for orphans out of our need. Caring for the fatherless out of need is not a godly thing to do because it’s not why God cares for the fatherless. A Trinitarian approach to orphan care guards against the temptation to serve fatherless children out of our emotional need by reminding us that we were created and redeemed to find our deepest joy and satisfaction in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Only a Trinitarian approach to orphan care can protect us from caring for others out of our own neediness.

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