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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Christian model of disability

People will at times attempt to understand what disability is through the construction of models. One hears of the medical or individual model, the social model or the moral model, each of which tries to explain or understand what disability is. As I have thought of these models in concert with what the Bible says about people in general and those who are devalued in some way by society because of characteristics such as impairment or disability, I have wondered what a Christian model might entail. I plan to unpack this much more, probably in the form of an article at some point soon, but I thought I would share my current thinking hoping to perhaps get some feedback from others who have been thinking about these issues. So here is my first stab at what might be called "A Christian model of disability."

A Christian model of disability  - all scripture applies to all people
There might be 5 general aspects to be considered.
  1. The individual with impairments in relation to God
    1. Created in His image (Genesis 1:26)
    2. In need of salvation (Romans 3)
    3. Not the result of personal sin (John 9:3-5)
    4. Not the result of a lack of faith (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
    5. Complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
  2. The individual with impairments in relation to themselves
    1. Created with a purpose (Exodus 4:11)
    2. Specifically created (Psalm 139:13)
    3. Evidence of the works of God (John 9:3-5)
  3. The individual with impairments in relation to the community
    1. Indispensable and worthy of special honor (1 Corinthians 12: 22-26)
    2. God’s sovereignty for the community (1 Corinthians 12:18)
    3. Reveals neighbors (Luke 10:25-37)
    4. Reveals lack of understanding (James 2:1)
    5. To whom much is given (Luke 12:48)
  4. The community in relation to God
    1. God’s sovereignty for the community (1 Corinthians 12:18)
    2. No favoritism (James 2:1)
    3. Reveals wrong traditions (Mark 7:8 & 13)
  5. The community in relation with itself
    1. The Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)
    2. Love your neighbor (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
    3. Greatest commandments (Luke 10:27)
    4. Who is not my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)
Conclusions based upon the above and other passages might be...
So the individual is…
´ Created in the image of God
´ Created with a purpose
´ As they are that the works of God might be seen
´ Impairments not the result of personal sin
´ Impairments not due to a lack of faith
´ Complete in Christ
´ Seems weaker but actually indispensable
´ Thought less honorable but actually worthy of special honor
´ Reveals character of those around
So the community…
´ The Body of Christ is God’s design for people
´ People are the way they are under the sovereignty of God for both themselves and for the community
´ Within the Body of Christ there should be no favoritism shown to one group or person over another
´ If the community truly was as it should be, disability would be very different
´ Inside or outside of the Christian community, everyone is a neighbor
´ Should focus on relationships over programs
So God…
´ Is love and loves people
´ Has purpose in disability
´ God makes people “deaf, dumb or blind”
´ Additionally, because God is all powerful, he either causes or permits disability
´ God may heal people, however, it is related to his sovereign purpose, not to someone’s faith
´ Promises his grace and that it will be sufficient in difficult times

´ Reveals things about himself through disability, eg. His power is made perfect in weakness

Thanks for looking this over. As stated, any input would be gratefully received.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Disability ministry may trump other aspects of ministry

I met with a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Chris Chun yesterday. We were discussing a variety of topics when we landed on a discussion of disability ministry. As the parent of a beautiful daughter who also experiences a disability, Chris said that for his family, one of the most important if not the most important criteria for choosing a church for his family was whether there was the desire to include his daughter. That might begin with a disability ministry. Of course solid preaching and teaching are critical as is the ability to be in small groups, etc. But these things being somewhat equal across many churches, the aspect of a church life and ministry that trumps all else for many families like Chris', is the presence of persons with disabilities being served by and included in ministry.

This is the kind of observation that should cause churches and church leaders to pause. In America, nearly 20% of the population experiences some form of impairment. If you have this large a group of people (which is even larger when you consider the families of such folks) who might agree that disability ministry trumps other forms of ministry, you would think the desire to promote such ministry should move to be a significant priority.

Over the years, the pastors of my church have often told me of how often families who chose to attend Trinity Church came because of our desire to include people with disabilities or be in a church that includes persons with disabilities. Even folks of other religions, like Mormons, will at times send their family members to our church because of the opportunities presented there. People can be desperate for a place where their family member is included, loved and taught the things of the Lord. Unfortunately, that is something that is to often difficult for families to find. But when it is found, it is a truly beautiful thing!