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

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Providing opportunities for the expression of gifts

The 1 Corinthians 12 chapter describes the manner in which people are gifted, by God, for the edification of the body. That is, your gift is not exclusively for you, but it is also for me and for the larger body. Now many of us, because of our strengths which accompany our gifts, are able to seek and find opportunities to express that giftedness in a variety of ways. But what of those who because of disabilities are overlooked, perhaps even thought to not be gifted?

In 1 Corinthians 12:22, Paul begins by saying "On the contrary" implying a correction about the fact that those who seem weaker are indispensable or those who we think are less honorable are worthy of special honor. If people are gifted in such a way that they are called indispensable, and are described as being worthy of special honor, what might this imply in terms of those of us who do not seem weaker or are not thought less honorable, working to to facilitate the expression of the gifting of others?  How do we make room for people to express their gifting who likely have not been given the opportunity to do so?

As I think about how the church might be different if persons with disabilities were truly integrated, I think this is one area of difference. How settings, programs, etc. would be structured would be different such that the giftedness of participants would be facilitated. Why? Because each person has been gifted for the edification of the body, "every one of them" as verse 18 states, just as God wanted them to be. If that is the case, then the expectation would be that gifting would have the opportunity to be expressed. It might take special effort to assist people who would not be able to reflect on themselves and their giftedness to find their gifts. It would also take special effort to provide them with opportunities. The exclusion of persons with disabilities is in part wrong because of the exclusion of specifically gifted people from using their gifts because the larger group sees them as disabled.

Being thought of as indispensable and worthy of special honor causes me to want to do something that has perhaps not been done in the past in this regard.

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