Moore challenges Southern Baptists to picture the Gospel by caring for the fatherless

Communications Staff — June 14, 2010

Russell D. Moore called attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference to view adoption and orphan care not as a charitable effort, but as an extension of the Gospel that characterizes churches that are serious about the mission of God.

Moore, preaching from Romans 8:12-23, said God adopting people who were once spiritual orphans should be a life-shaping reality. Instead, he said it is something we often quickly forget.

“God has said to us that every single one of us was isolated and alone and spiritually fatherless and we have a Father who rescued us from that and a Father who has given us a Gospel that is enough to say ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,'” said Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “If we believe that and if we have received that then we should picture and show that, including to the fatherless children of the world.”

Moore – who has adopted two boys from Russia – recounted walking into a Russian orphanage that was totally silent because infants had needs go unmet for so long that they stopped crying out for help.

“(Before we adopted our boys) we walked into their room one last time and told our boys that … we would not leave them orphans and we would come to them,” Moore said. “When we walked out of the room, we heard that little one-year-old boy fall down on his face in that crib and scream. My wife’s knees buckled as she started to cry and I held back tears myself as I said, ‘that is the most beautiful sound I ever heard in my life because he has parents who will hear him when he calls.’ That was the first time I understood the passage we just read.”

Paul wrote of men who were known as children of God, Moore said, not because they were part of ethnic Israel, but because the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwelled within them. Such people regularly cry to God ‘abba!” a term that entails relationship and familiarity, but also much more.

“Paul is telling us that the cry ‘abba!’ is literally a scream through the Spirit of adoption,” Moore said. “Those who are the children of God are crying out, with arms lifted up, ‘father! Father! Father!’

“Adoption and orphan care is not charity; adoption and orphan care is not another denominational program. Adoption and orphan care is spiritual warfare, because adoption and orphan care is about Gospel and about mission.”

Moore said the freedom believers have in Christ should cause them to yearn, to groan, for the lost in the world, including orphans.

“Paul says ‘do you see the freedom here, do you see the promise of what you have waiting in glory?'” he said. “He says that because of the glory that is to be revealed we groan, and we groan for the world, with the world. Paul is inviting Christians who have already received the Gospel … to receive others as they have been received.

“Do you groan inwardly of the fact that there are 140 million fatherless children in the world today? Do you feel the weight of the curse around us when we see that right now while I am talking to you there are those babies in a Russian orphanage rocking themselves to sleep?”

Moore said a church with a culture that cares for children and orphans will also have a culture that is set on doing missions.

“What would happen if an adoption culture were so created within our churches that when people thought of Southern Baptists, they thought ‘those are the people who welcome children and hurting mothers?” he said.

Moore recounted his two adopted boys screaming as they left the orphanage with parents for the first time. They were screaming because they did not know that what lay in front of them was far, far greater than what they were leaving behind.

“Scripture says that what was happening to those boys is exactly what too often happens to me,” Moore said. “Unable to see the glory and the freedom of the home to which I am going in Christ, too often I am looking back at what I am leaving behind: stuff, reputation, money. Paul says, ‘we understand that we have in the present time is absolutely nothing compared to the freedom and glory that is awaiting us in Christ.’ If we see that and recognize that, then why would we not be willing to welcome into our homes and churches children who through us are going to hear and see pictured before them the Gospel?”

Moore challenged Southern Baptist pastors to go back to their congregations and ask them to pray about their involvement in adoption and orphan care. Not everyone is called to adoption, nor to foster care, Moore said, but every Christian is called to care for orphans and widows in their distress. If we pastors went back and did that, Moore said the impact would be greater than we can imagine.

“It would change this entire world.”

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