Recently I have been involved in an international conference in Kiev, Ukraine, seeking to develop a ‘Ukraine Without Orphans’.
Why describe this, you ask, in ‘Letter from America’? Because American Christians, too, are becoming focused on adoption. Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, emphasises this point in his teaching. And recently Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, sparked no little controversy by banning adoption of Russians by Americans.
What could be closer to God’s heart than orphans? I am enthusiastic about this movement for all sorts of practical, clear, and compassionate reasons. I also want to make sure that the Father heart of God, which is motivating these adoption movements, continues to have the power of the gospel as their foundation and inspiration.
Gospel at the heart
Church history is full of examples of good biblical action taken on the part of the church which has devolved into little more than a social action movement. The reason for this seems to be that the original movers and shakers feel that everyone knows why they are doing what they are doing, because, initially, everyone does. Before too long, though, if you are not careful, the default mode of the human heart appears and we begin once more to lean towards legalism, or human-centered forms of religion. That is why we have to have the Word and therefore the gospel at the heart and as the motivating engine of any of these kinds of greatly needed movements to express care to the least among us.
Our righteousness cannot be in visiting people in prison, or feeding the poor, for no one can do that enough to satisfy the righteous demands of a holy God. We act in care towards others as an expression of the gospel, as people who have been transformed by the gospel, and as a sign that we are gospel people. But our righteousness is Christ. Without that we will either become demotivated and the movement will dry up and lose steam, or the movement will continue but become less and less Christian. Witness: YMCA (which originally stood for Young Men’s Christian Association).
Josh Moody is the senior pastor of College Church, Wheaton, Illinois.
This article was first published in the March 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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