2. Orphan care is good because God is inherently good and he is a “Father of the fatherless” (Psalms 68:5).
In recent blog posts, The Adoption Law Firm published its Statement of First Orphan Care Principles, and Unpacking the “Statement of First Orphan Care Principles,” Part I.
With this second fundamental principle of orphan care, we move from general revelation (what all people can see in creation) to special revelation (contained in the Bible). A fundamental presupposition to progressing in these “First Principles of Orphan Care,” is to embrace the unshakable truth that God exists and he has sufficiently revealed himself in the Bible to guide all our desires, motives, and actions. If this presupposition is one you have not embraced, then I commend to you Francis Schaeffer’s, How Should we Then Live. It has been of inestimable value in my own spiritual progress.
The Bible then is our authoritative source for data about who God is. The Bible explores that concrete reality that God is good and all he does is good. In a sense, this is the message of the entire Bible. God created the world good; evil entered and corrupted it, turning his creation into his enemy; but God showed the greater depth of his goodness by redeeming his former enemies and adopting them as sons. God is not only good, but he is the source of all goodness; and there is no evil in him.
We can conclude then that everything God does is good, because God is inherently good and the source of all goodness. Thus, if we read about God doing something in the Bible or possessing a certain attribute, we can (and must) conclude that this action or attribute is good (even if the meaning is confusing or not readily discernible).
Moving then from these general principles, let us turn to God’s specific attribute as the “Father of the fatherless . . .” What we have here, in part, is David making a divinely inspired proclamation about who God is. This data about God is crucially important, because eternal life is comprised of knowing “the only true God.”
Not only is eternal life composed of knowing God, but God’s people are expressly commanded to strive to be like him. The Law contains at least five explicit commands to be like God in his holiness.
1. “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44)
2. “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)
3. “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
4. “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” (Leviticus 20:26)
5. “You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.” (Leviticus 21:8)
In addition, Peter reiterates this principle when he says, “do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
Jesus himself instructed us in this when he explained that “we must be perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect,” and, “[a] disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Paul further explains that Christians are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” One specific application of this admonition to be like God is for husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
We have then this ubiquitous command to imitate God in every way that he reveals himself.
Thus, three guiding principles emerge:
1. God is good, the source of all Goodness, and everything he does is good;
2. Eternal life is comprised of knowing God; and
3. We must imitate God, as beloved children.
We can use the particular premises of God caring for the fatherless and being a Father to the fatherless to derive three syllogisms:
Major Premise – God is good, the source of all Goodness, and everything he does is good.
Minor Premise – God does orphan care.
Conclusion – Therefore, orphan care is good.
Major Premise – Eternal life is comprised of knowing God.
Minor Premise – God is a Father of the fatherless.
Conclusion – Knowing God as a “Father of the fatherless” is essential to eternal life.
Major Premise – We must imitate God, as beloved children.
Minor Premise 1 – God does orphan care.
Minor Premise 2 – God is a Father of the fatherless.
Conclusion – We must do orphan care and be a father to the fatherless.
From these conclusions we can see that orphan care is good because God is inherently good and he is a “Father of the fatherless.”
P.S. on Grace
In my opinion, if it weren’t for the grace-relationship saturating God’s interaction with his people, the imitation-motivation would make no sense. It would be pointless – fall on deaf ears. It wouldn’t get any traction.
It seems to me that one of the primary reasons we want to be like our Heavenly Father, is because he is so gracious. I hear the sense of this when Paul says, “be imitators of God, as beloved children.” It’s from the fountain of God’s grace in bringing former enemies into God’s family that Paul draws the motivation to be God imitators.
Imagine a wicked tyrant ruler; a cruel man who abused his subjects, raped the daughters of his people, stole their food, and cheated them out of their wages. What effect would it have for this guy to say “Be like me!” That’s the last thing his people would want to do. Hitler, for example, could say to the Jews and Roma, “Build that fence or else I’m gonna kill you,” and they would probably build that fence. But, how much would it motivate them if he said, “I want you to build this fence because I build fences”? Answer: it wouldn’t. It would be irrelevant.
For the same reasons, we must always keep before us God’s immense Grace towards us in forgiving our sins (we who were once his enemies) and adopting us into his family. Without a constant reminder of this, it will make no practical difference in our lives that God is a “Father of the fatherless.”
“That’s nice,” we would say. “What difference does that make to me?”
Photo by ctrlw.