John 9:3-5 says,
"Neither this man or his parents sinned" said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work" (NIV).
Jesus said this in response to his disciples asking about a blind man they encountered, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" They were wondering who's sin caused the blindness.
Merril C. Tenney, the Bible scholar wrote that this passage might be translated in a different way. Here is Tenney's translation.
"Neither did this man sin, nor his parents" said Jesus. "But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, we must work the works of him that sent me, while it is still day; the night cometh when no man can work."
One of Tenney's points with his translation is that the works of God are made manifest in persons with disability by the things those around them do. The works of God were not made manifest solely through the healing of the man by Jesus. An interesting perspective to consider. An interesting plumb line for evaluating the response of the Church to persons with a variety of disabilities.
This morning, Kathi and I had the pleasure of having coffee with some friends who are parents of a daughter with down syndrome. They related the story of how their daughter will engage in a game of "keep away" with a couple of boys in the neighborhood. Invariably, the game becomes those two boys keeping the ball away from their daughter until the game finally ends. Independent of whether or not the gal with the disability recognizes that she is being taken advantage of in the game, it is obvious that those two boys are not working "the works of him that sent me while it is still day." Now its not that the boys are being particularly evil or something, but they certainly are not being kind to the girl. Working "the works of him that sent me" would probably look a lot less competitive in this case (I have nothing against competition), and reflect, I don't know, fairness, encouragement; evidences of works of God.
People with disability in our midst, provide us the opportunity to work the works of God. Don't hear me wrong. They are not in existence so that I might gain some brownie points with God. That would belittle the importance of their lives and accentuate the importance of my life. I see no evidence from scripture that I am to do either. However, as with the opportunity to help any person who needs it, the chance is provided to work the works of God. At times I will work the works and at other times I will receive the benefit of someone else working the works. The take home lesson, I believe, is that we are all surrounded by opportunities to serve others and we need to take advantage of those opportunities. We are all equal before God.
In response to a letter about his Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien penned the following,
Frodo indeed ‘failed’ as a hero, as conceived by simple minds: he did not endure to
the end; he gave in, ratted. I do not say ‘simple minds’ with contempt: they often see with clarity the simple truth and the absolute ideal to which effort must be directed, even if it is unattainable. there weakness, however, is twofold. They do not perceive the complexity of any given situation in Time, in which an absolute ideal is enmeshed. They tend to forget that strange element in the World that we call Pity or Mercy, which is also an absolute requirement in moral judgment (since it is present in the Divine nature). In its highest exercise it belongs to God (emphasis added) (From Carpenter & Tolkien (1981), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #246, pp. 326)
There is a depth to the situations of my life. I may not be attending to the depth but it is there nonetheless.