Sunday, February 04, 2007

Adoption


So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.” For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children. (Romans 8: 15-16, NLT)

The book of Romans in the Bible is a letter to believers in Rome. I am finding it more and more helpful to understand the context in which the letters in the Bible were written. A while ago I came across the text above. The concept of being God’s child would probably not be new to most believers. I have always had trouble connecting with that. I am an adult. I became a believer as an adult. How can I be adopted?

I have recently found out that in Roman culture it was actually not all that common to adopt children. That kind of adoption did happen but it was more common to adopt an adult. A man with no heirs would adopt someone to become their heir. This person would have all the rights and privileges of a blood family member. So when the author of the letter (Paul) talks about adoption the readers likely understood this in the context of being adopted as an adult and gaining all of the rights and privileges of a family member.

I know I am not off the hook for needing to be more child-like. Jesus speaks of the need to be more like a child to get into heaven. That is definitely something I want to explore more in my study of Scripture. For now though, I am intrigued at how the beginning of Romans chapter 8 changes for me when I understand this in the cultural context in which it is written.

What changes for me is that Paul is not saying that I can be free from sin because I am like a child. Paul is saying that I am free to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me because I have been adopted into God’s family and I have all of the rights and privileges that are associated with that. I am led by the Spirit and I am a child of God.

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