“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fed in a particular way

On a recent trip to Uganda, I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing a bishop of the Anglican church, the Right Reverand Michael Nazir-Ali.  He was brilliant and delightful company and I was blessed to meet him.

In one of his sermons, he made the comment relating to being "fed in a particular way" as leading to a particular type of discipleship.  This notion of being fed in a particular way really began to ruminate in me.  I thought that if you are fed in a particular way it might lead to a particular set of actions or responses.  If my feeding is largely cerebral, I will probably expect a cerebral response.  If my feeding is largely emotional I might expect an emotional response.  If my feeding makes no demands for action or demands me to do something I will not act.  If my feeding is geared toward doing something, particularly doing something in the service of others, then chances are I will act in that way or in a manner that reflects my feeding.

I also got the feeling that you can be fed in such a way that you don't get beyond a particular discipling stage.  That is an interesting idea as well.  Maturity in ministry would cause us to think about the discipling stage of those we are discipling.  If we are sufficiently aware, we would try to determine the connection between the particular way we are feeding people and the particular outcome of that discipling in order to evaluate our feeding practices.

I can't help but wonder what the exclusion of persons with disabilities indicates abour the particular way that the church has been fed.  If everyone from the leadership on down shows no interest in devalued people or persons with disabilities that would imply something about how those people have been fed.  They have been fed to believe that they have no responsibility for their neighbor with a disability.  They have been brought up on an exclusive form of love that feels no hypocrisy in not loving some people.

I think we really need to look at ourselves, at our churches, at the behaviors of churches and ask ourselves if who we are is an artifact of how we have been fed, and when will we change that way of being fed such that we are better prepared and provided with better motivation and opportunities to love our neighbors.


Nate's story

A man named Nate once went to a church leader for council.  Apparently, Nate's son, an adult with cerebral palsy had had a difficult time at a recent Association for the Fair Treatment of People with Cerebral Palsy meeting.  The man related first of all that the building where the meeting was held, was not accessible.  Several people attending the meeting noticed that he could not enter and helped the man with cerebral palsy to gain entrance to the building.  Once inside, he was surprised to find that he was shunned by the people attending the meeting.  When people did speak with him, they spoke as if he were a little child.  When he asked about meeting activities that he could be involved in, the membership indicated that they felt he had little to offer.  Rather, they asked himi to sit quietly so as not to disturb those in attendance, fearing that he might drive them away.  After a time, the man met some people who were interested in him.  They started a sub grouop of the organization in which he and others like him could get together.  However, the people interested in him moved to a different chapter of the organization and the organizational leadership showing no interest allowed the subgroup to dwindle and eventually the man with cerebral palsy was left alone.  At that point, no one in the Association for the Fair Treatment of People with Cerebral Palsy seemed to notice or even care.

Upon hearing the story, the church leader was amazed at the lack of caring shown by the members of the organization whose basic creed was to support people with cerebral palsy.  The church leader said,
"What kind of organization is this!?  Their very name implies that they should be treating your son with fairness, yet, not only to they pay no attention to him, they even seem uncaring.  I say that they have lost their reason for being!"

Nate then said to the church leader,
"You are that organization, you are the leader, and the churches represented by you are that organization's members.  The persons with disabilities in your community whom you ignore are my son."

And the church leader's eyes were opened and he repented of his lack of love and compassion.