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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More honor to parts that didn't have any

1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 says,
But God has joined together all the parts of the body.  And he has given more honor to the parts that didn't have any.  In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides.  All of them will take care of each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

How does one give more honor to parts that didn't have any?  Could it be that we overlook the reasons that someone would not have honor.  We overlook things like social skills or the sounds made by someone with Tourettes syndrome, or odors which might accompany someone who does not have bowel control, or other aspects of disability over which someone has little control and an inability to change.  In this way, we give honor to those who "don't have any."  For some, we would expect certain behaviors or abilities, however, for those with forms of disability, we altogether honor those people by not separating them, by changing the way things are done such that they can be included down to social skill standards, personal comfort, or traditional ways of doing things.  In this way we honor people who by societal standards do not have honor.  As we understand the lives of people who are dis-honored, we begin to understand the suffering experienced by people.

When the verse says, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it" I believe it, but I don't see it.  People in the body do not suffer because of the suffering of others whom they may not even be aware.  Perhaps this is a description of something that happens that I am unaware of.  I may suffer from the suffering of others in ways in which I am not aware.  I am experiencing a life that is not what it should be because of those who are suffering which once again I am unaware of.  So we together should be something that we are not because of the suffering of others.  Perhaps if I was truly aware of the suffering of others and suffered with them I would be something that I currently am not.


Anonymous said...

What a powerful verse! I completely agree that too often we forget about the individuals in society who are dis-honored because of a disability they might have. We segregate them and make them feel worthless. So many of us without disabilities don’t want to see those individuals suffering and would rather ignore the issue all together and keep them segregated. God is telling us to do the opposite of that and when one suffers or rejoices, we all should. I think it’s so true though that we ignore or don’t want to see people with disabilities so we don’t understand their suffering and what they are going through. After reading this verse, I am going to try and get rid of the fears I have with the disabled and honor and suffer with them just like I would with anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in church, I have heard numerous sermons on 1 Corinthians 12 but none of the sermons went as deep as to considering individuals with disabilities. It may have been mentioned, but oftentimes was overlooked with the focus on using our spiritual gifts. I understand and agree that we should suffer and rejoice when those around us are also suffering or rejoicing, but the former is difficult to do. How can we "suffer" when we do not know the extent to one's suffering? When I think of "suffering," I picture individuals in deep pain, sorrow, and mourning but as McNair mentioned, "perhaps the description is something we are unaware of." When it comes to persons with disabilities, most of the individuals I have met are content with their lives and do not even believe that they suffering. Are we empathising enough with those around us to actually be aware of their joys and sufferings? As the many parts of the body are necessary to function, so shall the diversity of the church be used to lift one another up and care for each other.

I know a few faithful people at the church I attend who have been labeled and diagnosed as "mentally disabled" but are high functioning in many other aspects of everyday life. Maybe many other church members are unaware of these individuals because in our culture, disabilities are not spoken of and families are embarrassed to admit these "abnormalities" exist. Although these church family members come every week, very rarely have I seen them serve in an active ministry. I do not even know if they have been personally invited to serve. This makes me reconsider how I have been representing Christ and how I have been honoring those around me. A simple conversation with them each week will be a start to show them and their families honor.