Welcome back to the series “Ten Reasons NOT to Adopt or Bring New Converts into the Church”.
Just a reminder-these ten reasons were brainstormed at the Guire Shire dinner table one Sunday afternoon by my children. I am just filling in the gaps of conversation with a little more meat. Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair for 9 & 10! Please let me know what you think!
Members of a family generally have the same line of thinking after living in the same dwelling for years and years. You may hear things like, “Mom doesn’t like you drinking out of the milk jug, put it back!” There are certain lines of thought that everyone just knows. The Guires know we eat dinner. Simple, huh? They also know we pray before dinner. They believe they can live in my house and go to their rooms and read or rest at most anytime. They believe I love them enough that if they do something wrong, I will forgive them. They believe they can have a conversation with me. They believe I will feed them. If you adopt a child, especially an older child, he may have a different belief system than you.
9. He may think differently than you.
Children who are adopted from foster care or an orphanage and spent a significant amount of time there (even toddlers) develop a set of suppositions. They have been trained by nurture and nature that certain things are true. It may be the opposite of what you are accustomed to. It may go something like this.
I must feed myself.
I must comfort myself.
It is okay to lie and steal to get what I need.
I must take care of myself.
It is okay to break things and be angry to stay in control of my environment.
It is up to the adoptive parent to patiently reparent the child in order to renew the child’s mind. When Ania was four years old and fresh off the plane, she horded every thing. She stole. She packed anything she found into her turquoise and pink backpack. She hid food in her pockets, under her pillow and who knows where else. At the end of each day, I helped her unpack her pack-pack and return items to their rightful owners. I repeatedly showed her the pantry and assured her that we had plenty of food. She didn’t have to hide it. I made a snack basket for reassurance.
Converts- May think some of the same things. Converts may think like the world thinks, adapting to its superficial customs (Romans 12:2). How do we help a new disciple change his thinking? By the washing of the Word. The renewing of the mind. The Holy Spirit is like a fullers soap. It is He who convicts of sin. It is He who teaches. It is He who gives the power and grace to change. It is not laws or rules or bowing or standing or crossing ourselves. It is not outward signs, wearing a Talbots dress and the right shoes or having no gray showing in your part line (ladies). It is an inward transformation. It is saying inside- I belong here. I will be fed and loved and forgiven here. I am part of the forever family.
10. He might mess up your house.
Do you like a clean house with everything in order and organized? I do. Kids mess up things, don’t they? My son Damian used to wait until I cleaned the family room from top to bottom come in and dump his Lego bin on the floor and begin happily building. The fact is your beautiful home is going to get wonderfully messy. When my new Guires first came they were not used to access to a kitchen. When they discovered the water feature in the fridge door, they drank lots of water. The floor was slippery-wet constantly and so were their clothes.
What do you do? Enjoy the time of discovery! Enjoy their little projects because the time will fly. Revel in the curiousity. And institute some training in chores along the way!
Converts tend to mess up the well-ordered church too. They don’t know the protocol. They might wear holy jeans on Easter Sunday. They might stand when we sit. A new convert may have a Word from the Lord at the wrong time. Is there a wrong time? Have we let tradition take over when the Lord can move?
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!” – Romans 8:14,15
It is the Spirit bearing witness with a man’s spirit that he is part of the family of God. The Spirit of adoption compels each new convert to cry out “ABBA, FATHER”. It is not the mess he makes in the church or doesn’t make. It’s not the milk of the Word getting spilled on those who are already eating the meat. It is by the Spirit of God that each of us is led in the family of God. God is our Father. Jesus is our brother. We are co-inheritors with Christ.
“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”-C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity