Monday, September 28, 2015
"Sometimes you have to make a ruckus"
Another student of mine (I have great students!) also presented on a Biblical passage. Hers was from Mark 2 where the story is told of Jesus healing the paralytic. As you remember, the paralytic man's friends could not get into the building to get him to Jesus because the place was so crowded. And of course social mores would prohibit them from fighting their way to the head of the seating to be close to Jesus. So what do you do? You make a hole in the roof and lower the man down in front of Jesus. Pretty awesome idea. The end result was that their friend was both forgiven of his sins and physically healed such that he could pick up his mat and walk home. There was also now a hole in the roof and probably some pretty upset people.
My student's conclusion from this passage, which is absolutely true, is "Sometimes you have to make a ruckus on behalf of your friends with disabilities!" You have to do things like tear holes in the roofs of buildings in order for them to gain access and meet Jesus. We don't know if the man and his friends were shunned from attending. All the passage says is that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd. But this reminds me a bit of Ezekiel 34:21 where God rebukes the leaders saying, "...you shove with flank and shoulder butting all the weak sheep with your horns until they are driven away." Now I don't know if they were shoved out but they certainly were not given access. So what is the response when exclusion rules the day? You make a little ruckus! I spoke about this in an old post from 2006 .
What I am recommending is advocacy, sharing of information, persistence, making oneself available and in the end not worrying if you ruffle some feathers and make people uncomfortable. My wife Kathi and I have been pushing on these issues for many years, and I know depending upon the audience we are with, we will either be celebrated or considered a pain in the neck. I know of people who have attempted to start ministries that include people with disabilities and are shut down by the leadership. In frustration they leave and go to another church. That may sometimes be the answer, but I suspect it rarely is. The answer is to stay where you are and change things by what you do. Bring friends to church. Compel them to come ala Luke 14. This is the kind of ruckus that is often required to facilitate access to Jesus through the local church.