Saturday, June 13, 2009

Calling God "Daddy"- Part 3

I can hardly believe that it's been a month since I was last on here! Please excuse my delay in finishing up these series of posts- in this month we have finished up this current session of the Institute of Childcare and Family and then Laura Beth and I headed off for a week in India (yes, this was a spur of the moment trip- and without our boys!). It was an incredible trip, exceeding all of our expectations, but that's not the point of this post. For more info feel free to e-mail us (

In my last post I alluded a couple of times to the multi-ethnic implications of the doctrine of adoption. I want to expound on that a bit here and then pick up on it more in the posts ahead (hopefully). The foundation for this discussion is of course the incredible privilege that all sons and daughters of God have in addressing our God and King as "Daddy" or simply "Father". There is now a beautiful unified crying out to God together in every tongue and language out of hearts set free from sin and bondage to Satan and brought into intimate relationship with our now Father God. Yet what does the doctrine of adoption and the implications of the "Abba!" cry mean for us in terms of ethnicity.

If we look at the "new birth" alone as that which brings us into the family of God, then what appears is a unified family all rallying around the Lamb- Glory to God, yet there is a richness and fullness that is yet lost. In reality, we are "born again", brought from death (Eph. 2:1) and given spiritual life, a life and awareness that frees us to confess "Jesus is Lord" and submit to His rule over all of our lives. Yet it is here that He goes beyond redeeming us as simply His subjects, but He then adopts us into His family- that's the glory of the doctrine of adoption.

What is incredible about this new family is that we are not all consigned to simply ONE language or simply ONE newly created culture. There is an incredible beauty in the diversity of languages and cultures together, redeemed and free to cry out to God from the multiplicity of terms and expressions that each culture has to offer. This is also at the heart of the Galatians and Romans passages. Though intimacy is the foundation, there is beauty in the fact that Jesus cried out not simply in the language spoken at that time by the Jewish people (Aramaic- Abba!), but also in the language of the Gentiles (Greek- Pater or Patros), both of whom may now address God out of the uniqueness of each individual culture and language. This is also part of what Paul is picking up on in both the Romans and Galatians passages.

Before Jesus came one had to come INTO Judaism to be brought into relationship with God, a relationship that demanded one to conform to this new culture, laws, and even language (before the Septuagint was translated into Greek, everyone was dependent on Hebrew to know God and His requirements for His people as laid out in the Law and the Prophets). Yet because of the death of Jesus, each culture is now free to come to God where he/she can experience the redemption of their own fallen culture, while also coming to God in worship, expression and the language offered by each culture. This is a great significance found within the "Abba! Father!" cry.

So the picture both around the throne of God (as well as down here on earth) is not a picture of a mono-ethnic group coming to God in one language and one culture, but it is that of a group made up of multiple-ethnicities each redeemed out of their fallen cultures, yet also each distinctly marked by the beauty of that ethnic group- every tribe, language, people and nation. No culture is above another- not in THIS family! Instead, because we have been adopted INTO His family, we each are free to share in the family Name, the family inheritance, and the family culture (Kingdom culture), while at the same time delighting in the beautiful diversity represented by all who now cry out "Father! Papa! Tata! Baba (I picked this one up in India)!"

So what does this mean for the church? What are the implications of the doctrine of adoption for local churches in terms of ethnic make-up, cultural expressions and worship? Any ideas?
[pic by Corrie Heinrich for a kid's book I'm working on]