The Rights and Privileges of Sonship
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. -- Romans 8:15-16 (NIV)
These verses took on a whole new meaning for me this past week. On Wednesday, May 4, I received a notice from the Clerk of the Superior Court of Watauga County informing me that my stepson is now legally my son. As of May 1 (which also happened to be my birthday -- what a great birthday present!), the adoption process that we had begun last August was completed, and the notice I received on Wednesday was a copy of the court order.
Apart from the excitement that I felt from knowing it was finally complete, and the joy that came from knowing that this adoption was something my son had requested, there was a new awareness of a spiritual truth that swept over me.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, chose the metaphor of adoption to describe the relationship that we have to our heavenly Father. Now, that is nothing new to those of us who have grown up in Christian environments. I've known for years that I was "adopted" by God. But I have to admit that I never really thought about all that was meant by that.
I've known people who were adopted. I have a niece and a nephew who both are adopted. And while I've understood it as something special, I didn't fully realize the ramifications. I saw it as parents loving a child enough to take care of them and provide for them, but didn't look at it from the child's perspective. Until now...
Allow me to quote a portion of this Decree of Adoption that I received in the mail:
NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the Court:Now, in the midst of all that legal language are some really awesome things that I want to point out here and draw some spiritual parallels.
(1) That from the date of the entry of this Decree herein, the said minor is declared adopted for life by the petitioner(s) ... and the State Registrar of Vital Records shall make a new birth certificate for said child...;
(2) That the Decree of Adoption effects a complete substitution of families for all legal purposes and establishes the relationship of parent and child, together with all the rights, responsibilities, and duties, between each petitioner and the individual being adopted;
(3) That from the date of this Decree of Adoption, the adoptee is entitled to inherit real and personal property by, through, and from the adoptive parents in accordance with the statues on intestate succession and has the same legal status, including all legal rights and obligations of any kind whatsoever, as a child born the legitimate child of the adoptive parents;
(4) That the Decree of Adoption severs the relationship of parent and child between the individual adopted and that individual's [father]....
Note that my son will actually receive a new birth certificate that reflects his new name. This is the part that excited me so much in thinking of my relationship to God. Think about it. My son is 13 years old. I have only been in his life since he was 10. He has been my stepson for a little less than two years, and as of the writing of this post, my son for only six days. Yet his birth record will now show my last name! It's as if we are able to go back in time and I actually am his father at his birth. A verse that we recently looked at on this blog seems very fitting here: 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" When we place our trust in Christ, God issues us a new birth certificate (in fact, Jesus referred to this in John 3 when he told Nicodemus that we must be "born again").
Secondly, note the establishment of the relationship between me and my son, and the final separation of the relationship between him and his biological father. (The rights of his biological father were terminated over a year ago, but this decree affirms that to an even deeper level.) Specifically, there is a "complete substitution" of my son's position from his former father's family to my family. Before we came to Christ, who was our father? John 8:44 tells us that it was the devil. But once we have been "born again" and adopted into God's family, John 1:12 tells us that we are now children of God. There has been a "complete substitution of families"! Praise God!!
The final element I want to note is that my son now is "entitled to inherit" from me. Now, this is rather comical at this present point in time, because I have very little for him to physically inherit! ;) But the spiritual truth of it is profound. In Christ, we are heirs with Christ to all that the Father has to give.
I'm so grateful for the privilege of adopting my son. But I am even more grateful for the privilege I have of being adopted by God. What an awesome privilege that is!
Until next time,