Right outside the main gate of Ancient Ephesus, there was a hill that acted as a – for lack of a better word – “baby dump.” It was a pagan society and when an unwanted baby was born, it was dumped up on the hill and left to die. Archeologists have found that often times these babies had deformities – or what our current culture would label, “special needs.” And other times, the child was just unplanned or unwanted. Ephesus also operated with a mindset that required you to live up to a certain standard…to look and act a certain way…beauty = worth. Therefore, if you birthed a baby with special needs, there was a lot of pressure and judgment placed on you.
Sound at all familiar?
With this evil and utterly disgusting practice in Ephesus, ancient writings suggest that early Christians would head up that hill to rescue the babies who were left to die and to adopt them as their own.
Isn’t that a beautiful image amongst a gruesome scene?
Now, I am no Bible scholar and I don’t know much more than that about the background of Ephesus during that time…(a friend and pastor at our local church shared all of that with me) but can you imagine what the culture must have thought? If they witnessed these early Christians trekking up that hill to rescue these “unwanted” children? They must have thought they were crazy. Why would they choose a hard, “against-the-grain” life by seeking after these children and choosing to make them their own?
I often feel that way as a foster parent. Many people don’t “get it.” They don’t get WHY we became foster parents. WHY we choose hard. WHY we would choose to welcome a child that required over 40 medical appointments in his first 8 weeks of life… Or simply why we would choose to sacrifice our time, our resources, our family dynamic for the “mess” of another’s.
Our culture often doesn’t “get” why an expecting family chooses to carry out the pregnancy they’ve been told will result in a still-born baby. WHY the expecting family chooses to bring their baby, diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, into the world when they learned of the diagnosis with plenty of time to terminate. WHY the comfortable family pays $40,000 to head to China to adopt a special needs child. WHY the foster family adopts a sibling group of 5 with trauma backgrounds that will lead them into endless amounts of therapy.
Because we were once a needy, blemished child on that hill crying out to be rescued. Our Savior heard our cries, and He climbed that hill to come get us.
In Acts, after Pentecost, Peter and John – filled with the Holy Spirit – proclaim the gospel and teach about Jesus’ resurrection. They heal a crippled man proclaiming to have done it in the name of Jesus. The rulers, elders, and scribes were astonished…they recognized they had been with Jesus…but they wanted them gone because they were afraid of losing their power or influence. They talked with each other and said, “What shall we do with these men?” (Acts 4:16)
They witnessed miracles in the name of Jesus but they didn’t like it. They didn’t want it to be true…it didn’t ﬁt with their culture or nicely into their standard boxes. Peter and John’s boldness threatened their lifestyle. These “Jesus people” were proclaiming to do things in the name of Jesus? With his help and power? What!? Well, that’s just uncomfortable.
Our culture and society today are often uncomfortable with this same boldness. In a world that strives for comfort, the “American dream,” biological children FIRST, adoption as a last resort, “my body, my choice,” and any other comfort inducing mindset…the idea of choosing the hard, choosing to live “against-the-grain” of what is typically acceptable, choosing to love sacriﬁcially like Jesus…is well, uncomfortable and not ideal.
Might we stand against this societal strive for comfort and be people that our society and our culture “doesn’t know what to do with.” Might we proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
Might we make our local foster care agency not know what to do with us as we step into the muck of foster care and love birth families beyond what makes sense.
Might we make our world around us scratch their heads and not know what to do with us as we literally go to the ends of the earth to willingly adopt the “unwanted.”
Might we make doctors and nurses scratch their heads and not know what do with us as we turn down their offensive oﬀer to terminate and instead lovingly and excitedly choose to carry our special needs child to term and deliver them into this world.
Might we be the people headed up the hill to rescue the blemished children in the name of Jesus and by the power of His Spirit…knowing ourselves what it feels like to be rescued and adopted as sons through Jesus Christ (Acts 1:5).
Might we do none of these things out of charity, but out of love for Jesus.
Read more of Lisa’s beautifully honest posts on her blog: Mess Into A Message Blog