I have been thinking a lot about relationships involving individuals, the community and God. See this link for some of my thoughts. Recently in putting together a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12, the following occurred to me.
"Like the Corinthian church that Paul addresses, we face the same issues of disobedience that they did. We need to look at ourselves in the light of his exhortations. Because we have ignored or excluded individuals with disabilities, we have not become all that the Body of Christ should be. But we actually do not know what we would become if parts of the body that have been excluded were now included.
God in his sovereignty, has created individuals and his church. The way both of those are reflects how he wants them to be. Under his sovereignty, people are the way they are for themselves, for the community and ultimately for God. If someone is rejected because of personal characteristics, this reflects a misunderstanding of people, community and God. It is a threefold mistake. People aren’t able to express their God given purpose. The community or the Body of Christ will never become what it was meant to be, and arguably we are disobedient to God’s sovereign purpose."
I recently heard someone say that rejection of people is a "sin against the Body of Christ." I agree with that, that is how serious it is. This threefold mistake is so basic. It calls so much into question.
Professor McNair, I have to say I agree with you and the person who stated, the “rejection of the people is a sin against the Body of Christ.” Recently I have come to an understanding that God created all men in His image. If all man is created in God’s image, that tells me God is speaking to all humanity. If we single out people based on what they look like, how they were born, and a disability; are we not the ones committing the sin? In the eyes of God and Christ are we not all brothers? If we are to be God’s people, we should show humility, and kindness to all people. Colossians 3:12 states, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” I believe Christ tutored His disciples to teach the people that we are all God’s children and in God’s eyes we all a fraction of his creation. If we are all God’s children, we should treat everyone equal. For God dislike the proud but favors the humble. I think society needs to be enlightened and realize every single individual has their own gifts and purposes.
I agree with you I feel that as a society we are quick to forget about others with disabilities. It was never something that was taught to us that we should remember those with disabilities. We were also never really taught that we have to accept others with disabilities. It is something that should be taught but it is also just common sense. But sadly not everyone thinks it is common sense that we should never reject someone just because they have a disability. I remember when I went to Mexico I have a baby cousin with Down Syndrom. Her mom told me she was scared to take her daughter out when she was first born because she thought people would talk badly about her daughter. I thought that was silly but hearing that my cousins grandmother called her a monster when she was first born made me think. This old woman was ignorant of what Down Syndrome was and thought it was okay to bad mouth her own granddaughter because she was with a disability. Just shows even in our day and age some people still do not have the proper knowledge of certain disabilities.
I love the perspective of rejecting any persons from the church is a misunderstanding of people, community, and God. I agree, that is a mistake on our part, because God did not intend for anyone to be left out, so if we do such a thing, we are misrepresenting his intentions for the church. It is crazy that this is something that the church has struggles with, even since the time period of Paul! And the concept of not knowing what the body of Christ is truly meant to be if we are not including all and letting it function to its fullest capacity of the way God has designed it to. Including everyone brings in such an opportunity of compassion over judgement and that is something the church as a whole could stand to work on. The church community is not just for us, but also to bring glory back to God, so shouldn’t we be treating the church community in a way that truly pleases Him? Disclusion is not the answer to this. I very much agree with this post. Hopefully a movement will form on this topic, and churches can see the adjustments they are called to make in order to include any kinds of individuals, including those with disabilities.
Dr. McNair, I agree with the idea that we are committing an act against God when we reject others. While I know that I am not doing my best to include individuals with various disabilities in my church community, I struggle with the idea that many do not find purpose in others with disabilities. Furthering this idea, I consider a conversation between family members. With my mother a teacher in the field of special education, I humbly admit I still have so much to learn about the community of individuals with various disabilities but I have been privileged enough to experience their character, joy, honestly, and intellect. All this to mention, one day my mother and brother were having a conversation regarding what to do in the event of a school shooting and how my mom would react to help her students. My teenage brother, not a believer of Christ, with A.D.H.D., anxiety, and depression asked my mother why she would save her 5 year old students if some other them would never be able to create families of their own in the future when my mom has children to take care of. Beyond the basic level of apathy expressed by my brother, I realized how hurt I felt and my mother as she cried in confusion asking him how he could say such a thing. My mother then explained the beauty of her students and how they are individuals with futures as well even if they do not amount to what my brother would deem as purposeful. Though my mom is a believer of Christ, she did not mention how we are called to love others just as the Lord does for us. When I relate this story about how we not only include individuals within the community with disabilities in our social circles or even our church, I ponder the ways in which we also protect them. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I have found that my church is quite large and does partake in ministry of individuals with visual disabilities but does not necessarily seek out individuals with various disabilities to attend our church. I wonder how I can seek out individuals with disabilities not similar to those at my church without marginalizing them. I wonder of how I can best communicate that I am not doing anyone a favor by extending invitations to my church and making friends with those of the disabled community. I can't even imagine the outlets that may be found in welcoming others with disabilities if we were to have more individuals with disabilities give us the ability to do so. With so many barriers in place to visit group homes even, I wonder the same about teenagers and young adults in foster homes or group homes..
(post cont.) ...The more I consider ways I could go about approaching individuals with disabilities I realize that perhaps part the solution to involving individuals with disabilities starts with growing in my relationships with acquaintances. I feel as though I have tunnel vision but over time I have come to realize that while not all disabilities are obviously detectable or physical, investing in relationships with anyone we come across allows us to find out many of the people we know and come in contact with every day either have disabilities or they have children or know people with disabilities. Altogether, I feel this post is thought provoking. Rather than trying to point out individuals with disabilities because they are different in some ways and similar to us in other ways and equally good, I feel that we should be genuine in our investment in others. I feel that through this, God may bless our ability to grow the body of Christ for his glory. I feel that in doing this maybe I can protect individuals with disabilities from feeling as though I am ingenue or that I am using them. There seems to be a fine line between reaching out to a community of individuals with disabilities for the sake of inclusion and reaching out to such a community for self-righteous purposes. What do you think the best way is to establish relationships that are genuine and natural, with the intention of sharing the Lord's joy with them just as a believer may do with anyone else they become friends with? Perhaps admitting my ignorance is best or my inexperience in obtaining close friendships with individuals with disabilities is important, or maybe I am not supposed to say anything at all because that would imply that I view someone differently because they have a disability.
I love this post, it really gets you thinking about our society and how we treat people. I think God made each and every one of us unique, especially those of us with disabilities, and He loves each and every one of us. God created all of us to be a part of His kingdom and when we exclude people from that opportunity, not only are we going directly against God’s will and plan for us dishonoring him, but we are also missing out. Like Dr. McNair said, “The community or the Body of Christ will never become what it was meant to be, and arguably we are disobedient to God’s sovereign purpose." As Christians, we are called to be like God and follow His will for our lives. Which means, we need to be loving, encouraging, kind, and welcoming to EVERYONE. But we don’t do this, we judge people, exclude people, and are mean to people. We are missing out on how great the kingdom could be if we follow Gods purpose and allow others to follow Gods purpose. As Christians, we have started to follow God’s purpose for our lives just by giving our lives to Christ, and granted we still have quite the work to do, but we are blessed for following God. So how could we possibly want to keep anyone from the blessing of knowing the God who made us. We, as a society, need to work so much harder to include persons with disabilities and be accepting of them and love them. They are human just as any average person is and they deserve the chance to know God, so we NEED to include them.
Post a Comment