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"In a world with cars, couches, the internet, television, and grocery stores that stock (on average) 35,000 different products, “excess food and prosperous ease” are our M.O"
As we looked at in my previous post, adoption is a powerful concept. I'd like to look into a passage that touched me lately as an example of how God's powerful use of language shapes our understanding of adoption and orphan care in our city today.
God uses powerful and intense language throughout Scripture. Oftentimes it’s powerful language used to describe his incredible love for us. But other times it’s powerful language used to describe the depth of our sin and rebellion against him. Ezekiel 16 is an example of the latter.
Ezekiel 16 begins with God describing the unmerited love that he had poured onto Israel. He compares the nation to a helpless baby wallowing in its blood whom he saved, cleaned, redeemed, provided for, and ultimately married.
He figuratively describes his love for the nation this way:
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:13-14)
But in the very next verse he describes what Israel did with all of those blessings:
“But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” (Ezekiel 16:15)
God, through Ezekiel, then continues for the next 43 verses detailing the disturbing nature of the nation’s “adultery” and demonstrating the extent of their “whoring” (a term that is used repeatedly). It is a passage of Scripture that impacts you gutturally—it causes you to feel the depth of rebellion against God and our own propensity to follow our own desires. He even goes as far as to declare that the sin of Israel has even exceeded that of the infamous Sodom.
As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. (Ezekiel 16:48)
And we all know what Sodom’s sin was, right?! Or…maybe not. It’s the very next verse that struck me so significantly as I read through this chapter a few weeks ago.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
According to Ezekiel 16:49, Sodom’s sin was made up of a combination of four things:
2. Excess food
3. Prosperous ease
4. Failure to aid the poor and needy
Now why does that sound familiar?
In a world with cars, couches, the internet, television, and grocery stores that stock (on average) 35,000 different products, “excess food and prosperous ease” are our M.O.
Which begs the question, how are we different than Sodom? And by “we” I don’t mean “we” in the “American culture” sense. I mean you and me. The difference (on the surface) is found in numbers 1 and 4 on the list. God is calling us (every single Christian) to deep humility and a passionate care for the poor and needy, especially those Christians who have an excess of food and have the capability of living in prosperous ease.
The biblical logic is not "look how bad others have it…feel guilty…and do something." Too many proponents of adoption utilize guilt as a primary motivator, but this is not the motivator he is after in our hearts. God steps into our lives and helps us to identify with the poor, needy, and helpless because, without him, that is exactly who we are. Without Christ we are spiritual orphans. Without his grace we are helpless and desperate. We couldn’t do anything to get out of the horrible situation we were born into. But He came and He rescued us and He adopted us.
There are numerous different poor and needy people in our world and in our city. But there are few that are more helpless or needy than kids in the foster system or kids on the edge of entering the foster system.
This doesn’t mean that every Christian is called to adopt or foster a child. However, in light of all Christ has done for us and all of the unmerited grace we receive, every one of us is called to wrestle with a few questions in light of Ezekiel 16:49:
1. How is my life being shaped by my pride and love for myself as opposed to a humble concern for others?
2. Who has God intended to be fed by the excess food that I have or have access to?
3. Whose life has God intended to be blessed as I sacrifice my own prosperous ease to ease the burdens of others.
4. Who (people’s names) are the poor and needy that God would have me aid? or How can I meet the poor and needy since I don’t know anyone who could be described that way.
In the final post in this short series I want to draw our attention to a specific kind of orphan in our society, one who is oftentimes passed over, even when we seek to answer these questions.
Scott serves the church by overseeing leadership, development, global ministries, and counseling/discipleship.
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