You Matter

One way America recognizes its heroes is with the Congressional Medal of Honor. The award includes a citation which describes in detail what happened, including when and where. Last month, the President awarded the Honor to John Canley for his actions as a marine in Vietnam, 1968. Gunnery Sergeant Canley matters, and his name is etched into history.

History also documents a rather eclectic group of people who shared a common goal, to build a wall. It calls out scores of names, describing their actions and where they built. The account includes curious details. It notes the builders’ usual professions (priest, goldsmith, perfumer, government official). One man’s daughters helped with his section. Some worked beside their own houses. They undertook the work at personal risk, threatened with the accusation of sedition. (Neh. 3)

Why would the Bible record such detailed history? We know it outlines a grand narrative of God’s dealing with humanity, but it does so with stories of real people. In this story of the wall around Jerusalem, we witness what matters to God. People’s names, professions, and work locations are important. Where they lived mattered. The role of women mattered. God clearly cares about people, places, homes, and jobs because the details fill the Book.

The temptation is to think that in the grand scheme, you don’t matter much. You didn’t win a medal or make history. But let me assure you, dear reader, you haven’t escaped God’s attention, fortunately. Sure, there is an unnerving aspect of an all knowing God, especially if you are hiding something. Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Matt. 10:26). Jesus knows your past, too. When Nathanael asked how Jesus knew so much about him, He answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48).

But there is a more profound level of knowing, beyond concealed things and fig trees. We see this when Jesus warned He would tell certain posers, “I never knew you; depart from me” (Matt. 7:23). Love makes the difference with this kind of knowing. “If anyone loves God, he is known by Him” (1 Cor. 8:3). Loving God begins with accepting the truth about Jesus Christ, who loved you first despite your (ahem) details.

So be glad that God knows you. The Bible says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). When you sacrifice and serve, “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:4). To you, He has revealed Himself as Immanuel, or “God with us.” You may never receive a medal of honor or write your name in history, but if the God of the universe loves you, knows you, and is with you, then you matter.

Adopted

Perhaps you’ve heard of Russell Moore. Some know him as a commentator on politics, policy, and social issues. Southern Baptists know him as the leader of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

What you may not know is that he’s the father of two adopted boys from Russia. This, along with being a theologian, gives him a unique perspective on adoption. In fact, he cannot talk about his sons’ adoption without talking about the meaning of adoption for Christians. In his book, “Adopted for Life,” he writes, “We believe Jesus in heavenly things – our adoption in Christ; so we follow him in earthly things – the adoption of children. Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity.”

The theology is clear. In the fullness of time, God sent Jesus, “that we might receive the adoption as sons,” and by His Spirit we can call God our Father (Gal. 4:4-6). The Spirit of God is called the “spirit of adoption,” and believers are “fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:15-17). Of course, being a Christian is not a prerequisite for adopting a child, but it certainly packs more meaning into the human act of adoption knowing that we are all spiritual orphans needing a Father. He is the one “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Eph. 3:15). An adopted family is just as real a family as we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Moore describes the horrifying conditions in his sons’ orphanage, and the agonizing, costly process of making them his own. The toddlers were unresponsive, deprived of human touch to the extent of causing developmental delays. After visiting with them weeks before the final action, the boys would groan and wail when the Moores would leave the orphanage. Those boys knew they had experienced something that they did not want to lose. They needed simply to belong, to be fully known and loved.

We see this theme several times in the gospels. A woman of ill repute anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears. The other men around were fairly disgusted with it. Jesus asked them a powerful question. “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44). They were blind to this abused and ignored woman. A non-Jewish woman asked Jesus for help, but Jesus refused twice, as though to draw out her faith. The disciples wanted her gone. But Jesus said, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” (Matt. 15:28). Both women needed to be known and loved.

Jesus stepped out of his perfect home into the horrifying conditions of a fallen world only to endure the agonizing, costly process of making you his own. He knows you. He loves you. You are the apple of his eye, the one He adopts into his forever family.