Several of the points he made about the global church touched me in reference to persons with disabilities in the church. He said, the purpose of maturity as a Christian is not independence but interdependence as we are a body. He gave the example of the liver saying "Now that I am all grown up, I don't need the lungs or the body anymore." His point being that as we grow we recognize our need for the rest of the parts of the body. A lack of need for all parts of the body is a sign of immaturity. Should the liver say it didn't need the lungs, we would correct it saying, "No, you just don't understand how things work in a healthy body." Our interaction would be like that with a child who will understand as he grows. Thinking one is independent and doesn't need the rest of the body is a clear indication of immaturity. With maturity comes the understanding of the need for interdependence.
Muriu spoke of his interaction with Western pastors. He would question them asking, "Why do you need the African church?" (he is an African pastor). Their response was that they didn't know why they needed the African church. This once again shows a lack of maturity, a lack of understanding of how the body works. Why does the liver need the lungs? To exchange gasses. Why does he liver need the kidneys? To clean the blood. There are reasons for why parts of the body need each other. The fact that I as the liver don't know why I need the lungs or the kidneys only points to my ignorance and my need for maturity.
Why do I need my cognitively disabled brother in Christ? Why do I need my mentally ill sister? Why do I need my paraplegic brother? If I don't know, as a point of maturity I should strive to find out. Perhaps the best way to get at the answers is to have that person in my midst, to work to include that person.
Oscar Muriu spoke of how the Western church appears to be in decline. I wonder, could it be in decline because it is not healthy because it has never included the parts of its body which would keep it alive? Muriu asked why the African church, for example, would want to drink from the poisoned chalice of Western theology if the result is a declining Western church? Great question. Could a part of the slow poison which is causing the decline of the Western church the lack of involvement of persons with disabilities? I am foolish enough to think it might be, because the body has been attempting to live without all of its parts. Parts that 1 Corinthians 12 states are absolutely essential. How can a body live for long without absolutely essential parts? Perhaps it would gain life if the absolutely essential parts were reattached. Could the church potentially even recover if the parts were remade body members?
Society is gradually on a path to destroy all the parts the church has rejected in the past. The world is killing persons with disabilities through abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. What type of church will survive if there are no people with down syndrome in the world? What type of church will survive if all quadraplegics are assisted with suicide? The world is removing the possibility of being the whole Body of Christ for us and we are complicit in a sort of slow, self-inflicted, church suicide. We are the liver who thinks it doesn't need the lungs.
And the world is willing to take our lungs away from us.
We loose people with disabilities in the world at great peril to the church.