King of Kings, Foster of Fosters: Thoughts On Adoption, Pt. 7

If Jesus was a foster child then why is He rarely ever spoken of as such? Is it because in the West, a scientific and DNA-driven society, that the prevailing definition of family has to do with biology and as such, the tendency is to consider anything other than biological as less? Or is it because compared to noble nomenclatures like King, Lord, Savior and Messiah, Foster Child seems less dignified? In all reality, there are likely a number of reasons that Jesus’ title as a foster child has been relegated to the metaphorical shadows. The fact remains however: Jesus was a foster child!

Perhaps it is high time to resurrect this powerful image of Jesus. Indeed, it is an image, which, in a world where the fostering and adopting of children is on the increase, can offer helpful and hopeful ways for thinking about and relating to Jesus. For instance, what if we altered the traditional phrase “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” to “King of Kings and Foster of Fosters”? Might persons begin to recognize the awesomeness and beauty of such a title? Might they realize the power of fostering and adopting children? Might their image of fostering and adopting change? Might they be more likely to foster or adopt themselves?

The fact that Joseph fostered Jesus lies at the very heart of Christianity. For sure, Christianity is a faith structured around relationships; the beauty of the doctrine of the Trinity is that God is relational. Flowing from this, we have the teaching of Imago Dei, which says that we are created in God’s image and as such, we are relational too. The foster relationship between Jesus and Joseph teaches us about the choice to be in a relationship. It also teaches about choosing to love someone who may be different than us, who may not be our kin or ethnicity and who may bring challenges to our lives. It teaches us that broken lives and relationships can be cured by a new way of loving—choosing to love.

In my view, that is the most beautiful thing about fostering and adopting: choosing to love. From a biological standpoint, your kin are your kin and you are taught to love them for that reason. “Blood is thicker than water” I've heard. In fostering and adopting such mantras actually hold no water. The choice to love is a powerful thing and speaks volumes (by the same token, the choice not to love does the same).

What if we changed the lyrics to some of our songs to make this point even more potent: “What foster child is this?”, “Joy to the world, the foster child has come” or “O foster child of Bethlehem…Foster child of wonder, child of light”. I think if we began to really hone in on the fact that Jesus was a foster child, our Christologies would shift, our ethics would shift, our view of family would shift and we would see the Church and the world influenced in an amazingly positive way. No longer should we write Christologies without exploring this image of Jesus’ life. I say this not just from a social but also a theological standpoint.

Like this statue in the photo (I took this when entering a hospital recently for a pastoral visit), our Christologies should stand as a testament to the fact that Jesus was a foster child and as such, the whole of our theologies and ethics should be in some way, shaped by that.

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