Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Inaugurated Orphans Who Eagerly Wait: Adoption, The Nations, and Future Glory

As I was reading Galatians this morning, I noticed one of Paul's common phrases.  In Galatians 5:5, Paul says, "For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness."  Paul's notion of eagerly waiting reminded me of Romans 8 in which this idea of waiting for redemption as heirs and sons is also used.  In Romans 8, Paul points out the difficulties of this world and the fact that the whole creation longs for the day that Christ will return to make all things right.  In Romans 8:23, Paul again points to eager waiting, but puts it in the context of adoption.  He says, "And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."  In some sense, Paul puts forward an "inaugurated adoptionism" similar to the common theological idea of an inaugurated eschatology.  It is true that we are both already adopted, and according to Paul here, not yet fully adopted.  In other words, there is an adoption that the people of God are eagerly waiting for, namely the final redemption and resurrection of our bodies into a state of future glory as "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:16-17).  So, while we live in the truth of our final adoption decree, we eagerly wait for our final adoption decree.

Going back to Galatians, the phrase "eagerly waiting" is in the context of Paul's ministry to the Gentiles (i.e. the nations).  He argues that in Christ, there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, etc.  Basically, there is no racial, gender, ethnic, or national distinction in the inaugurated kingdom of God.  Rather, all are equally valuable to God.  In tandem with equal value, all come to Jesus on the same terms, namely faith.  This is Paul's point in Galatians.  Faith saves us, not the law.  The same Spirit in Romans 8 by which we live is the same Spirit in Galatians 5:5 through whom our eager waiting finds its culmination and validity.  Not only do we wait eagerly depending on the Holy Spirit, but we wait eagerly "by faith."  Finally, that which we eagerly wait for in Galatians is "the hope of righteousness."  In other words, with no racial or ethnic barriers, we, the people of God, wait eagerly for the day when Christ will give the final decree of our adoption and glorification as sons.

I can't help but find parallels to these thoughts in our adoption journey from the Congo.  I can't help but feel like there is a little child in the Congo who is as good as adopted (because Liz and I are coming for him), but has not yet received the final decree of adoption.  I imagine that child eagerly waits for his adoption even if he is not old enough to consciously realize his situation.  Our prayer is that this child will eventually eagerly wait for his adoption as a fellow heir with Christ.  With no racial or ethnic barriers, no Congolese or American labels, Liz and I pray that all our children will eagerly await the day that Christ returns to make all things new.  We certainly recognize that ethnicity is too visible to hide.  But in the inaugurated Kingdom of God we are, by faith, all inaugurated orphans from every tribe, language, people, and nation.  By the Spirit we live, by the Spirit we wait, by faith we walk.

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