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

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No, your eyes were not playing tricks on you when you read the title of this post. Orphan care is not what I do. It is what Jesus does. Here is what I mean (are you ready for a quick mind-bending journey?): too often we Christians think primarily in terms of what we do for the kingdom rather than primarily in terms of what Jesus does. Did you notice that I used the word “primarily” and not “only”? Very few Christians think only in these terms, but most of us are daily tempted to think primarily in these terms.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the relationship between the believer’s union with Christ and his or her involvement in orphan care. The reality of our union with Christ means that we as Christians never do anything independently from him. Our union with Christ is indissoluble and unceasing. There is never the smallest fraction of a fraction of a second when we are not living and moving and having our being in union with Jesus. For the believer, union with Jesus is everything.

I recently read that “wherever Christ is, there is the church and her ministry.” Sometimes, though, we operate under the assumption that wherever the church is, there is Christ and his ministry. At first glance, you may not see much of a difference between these two ways of putting it. You may even think that we are just playing the semantics game. But often underneath the second way of putting it hides the ugly notion that we are the ones who set the ministry agenda, not Jesus.

In an attempt to borrow from the above concept, I’d like to suggest that in light of the believer’s union with Christ, wherever Christ is, there is the Christian and his or her ministry. As the book of Hebrews teaches, Jesus is the resurrected and ascended Minister. Jesus not only purifies and cleanses our ministry or service as Christians, he leads it. Because of who Jesus is and what he has done as our resurrected High Priest, he has gathered us up into union with himself. The upshot of this is that what Jesus does now, we do. Jesus ministers for us and in our place, and because we are in union with him, we participate in his ministry.

I am convinced that this way of thinking has profound implications for how we think about our involvement in the ministry of orphan care. Our ministry as Christians must first be thought of as participation in Christ and his ministry rather than first as imitating Christ and his ministry. In his book, The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ, Andrew Purves writes, “There is only one ministry, that of Jesus Christ, to which through union with Christ we are joined” (108).

Someone might argue that all I’m doing is playing a shrewd game of semantics. But just take a moment to look at the number of times Paul uses the phrases “in Christ” and “in him” in his writings. Paul means for Christians to think about every aspect of their living in terms of their union with Christ. We are certainly not playing the semantics game here.

So, I return to my original claim: orphan care is not what I do. It is what Jesus does. Well, it is what I do, sort of. But it’s mainly what Jesus does. Since by God’s grace I am in union with Jesus, I get the awesome privilege of participating in what he does. The reality of this astounding truth both humbles and energizes me at the same time. “How?” you ask. Well, I’ll attempt to answer that question in part 2.
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Part 2


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