The new point for me was that the man who was disabled by the beating did nothing but lay there. His only role in the story was that he was present. When those who were arguably more "powerful" in that they were able to get up, move, do the things they wanted to do like travel came into his presence, his presence alone revealed their character. They were much more powerful by comparison, he had no power by comparison (1 Corinthians 12:22 again, "seem weaker") but his presence alone was either hugely affirming or quite damning of the character of those who came in contact with him. I mean think about it! For centuries since, the Samaritan and his response has become a part of western (at least) language. We all recognize that the Samaritan's character was revealed in this exchange (well it wasn't really an exchange because one person did nothing), in this encounter (a better word). The priest and the Levite probably thought themselves good guys, regular temple attenders, respected in the community and so forth. But the presence of a person with a disability revealed at least to some extant who they actually were.
And who were the priest and the Levite?
Jesus tells us. They were people who were not a neighbor, who did not love their neighbor. So who are we as a church? We are people in the words of Jesus who do not "Go and do likewise." We are the ones who pass by on the other side. We are the ones who are unwilling to be changed by the presence of people who simply by their presence have the power to either reveal our character or potentially change us through the insight we get into who we are. They are once again, "indispensable" because they will show us, all of us, independent of where each of stands on the disability/impairment continuum, who we are relative to the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
But people need to be present among us for that power to be weilded. We need to stop the "passed by on the other side" kind of behavior which is little more than deliberately ignoring our neighbor. The sad part is that both the priest and the Levite "saw the man" which resulted in the behavior of passing by on the other side. When people tell me they just didn't know about people with disabilities in the community, I don't believe them. Church leaders know there are people with disabilities in the community. Although they may not actually put themselves in a place where they see them, they are still passing by on the other side.
Why is the inclusion of persons with disabilities so foundational? Jesus shows us that if we do not love them, we do not love our neighbor. What could be more basically wrong with us than if we don't love our neighbor. The image of a man "left for dead" is a perfect illustration. How often does the church, knowing people with disabilities are in need and in the community, attitudinally leave them for dead. Everyone around the beaten man in the story allowed him to be "left for dead." The social isolation and lives being filled with "almost friends" (Baca & McNair, 2013) people who are exclusively paid to be with a person with a disability, is how we leave people for dead today. We must be like the Good Samaritan, love our neighbor, and reflect Jesus' directive to "Go and do as he did."
Baca, J. & McNair, J. (2013). Almost friends. Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 2(1).