Who is present in our Biblical vision of community?
At dinner the other night, someone shared about how being part of an inclusive church made it easy for her to reach out to a friend who also had a child with a disability. She invited her friend to church, saying that at Sunday school, this friend’s child would be welcome and cared for, as her child with Asperger’s was. The friend was amazed, saying, “Really? They would accept him?”
Our answer as the body of Christ should be a resounding “Yes!” What an opportunity to show God’s love the inclusive Sunday school presented, for the child with disability and the parents alike. Unless our churches are accessible, physically, socially or otherwise, we passively exclude people with disabilities from being a part of our church community.
People with disability play an important role in the church. 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NIV) says, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable”. Weakness can be a blessing, as God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). A young man with high-functioning autism once spoke at a course that I attended - he encouraged us to “think deeply about the faith of people with disability and to see the giftedness of each member.” He shared, “I do not underestimate the ability of God’s power to work in me.” People with disability can be a great blessing that the church is missing out on.
In order to reach out and to obediently work towards a Biblical vision of community, the church needs to engage with disability.