Father of the Fatherless

Father of the FatherlessLast Friday, my brother and I attended a small Bible study/discussion group that a friend of ours is trying to get started as an outreach. The topic was, “What is our purpose.” It was an interesting discussion. After a brief overview, the guys starting batting around Bible verses and talking about how each of those verses could be applied to determining our purpose in life.

The conversation started with the basics (serving God) and briefly touched on the memorized, Westminster Catechism answer before moving into deeper waters. What verses in the Bible give direction for how to serve God and live our lives? After a while, one of the guys mentioned Isaiah 58:6-8, which says,

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

That verse made my brother think of Galatians 2:9-10 and Psalm 68:5.

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of widows, is God in his holy habitation. –Psalm 68:5

A father of the fatherless is a phrase my brother and I have talked about a lot. Several years ago, we heard a lecture by Eric and Leslie Ludy titled, The Power of the Poured out Life. In that lecture, they talked about how God is a father to the fatherless through us. That as the Lord’s representatives here on earth, we are his hands and feet to bring this verse to life.

That’s an important responsibility. It’s also one I’ve wrestled with. Many people use that verse to support adoption. The beginning of verse six goes on to say,

God setteth the solitary in families:

I agree with the people who use this verse as a foundation for pursuing adoption. There are children around the world who desperately want and need families. But it always felt like there was more to it. After all, only 1% of orphans will ever become available for international adoption. Of course, there are Christians in every country who could be the fulfillment of this verse for the children there, but such a purely human interpretation still felt lacking.

As my brother mentioned that verse on Friday, one of the other men nodded and said,

…don’t just be “a” father to the fatherless. Be THE Father to them.

That comment grabbed my attention and held it. I’ve been thinking it over ever since. He’s so right. Adoption gives orphans a physical father, and that’s wonderful. I firmly believe the Bible supports that. But there is, indeed, more to it. We are to represent The Father to those around us. Leslie Ludy addressed the concept of secular humanitarian efforts versus Christ-centered outreach in a blog post titled True Rescue Work.

Some people accuse Christians of adopting simply as a way of proselytizing. They claim we care more checking off a box on our Christian achievements list than we do about helping needy children. But that’s not true. Carrying for orphans as a Christian should be a beautiful combination of both physical and spiritual. Giving orphans a physical father is a wonderful thing, but representing The Father to them is so much more. It goes even deeper.

In Ephesians 5:25, God tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. It’s not a perfect comparison, but I think that’s the idea behind representing the heavenly Father to orphans. It doesn’t erase the need to provide physical parents to children who need them, but it opens the doors even wider. It calls us to a greater level of love and excellence. It calls us to represent The Father even to the children who can’t be adopted. It allows us to be part of the calling even if we’re not in the position to adopt. Isn’t it a beautiful, sobering privileged to represent our Lord here on earth?

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: —2 Corinthians 5:20

What do you think representing The Father to the fatherless looks like? Do you agree that Psalm 68:5-6 is talking about more than physical parenthood? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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