you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
God has created each of us with unique characteristics, quirks, and gifts that make us who we are. We are all lovingly created and have been given an invitation for a greater purpose on this earth, to be a part of God's Larger Story.
God has placed on my heart a desire to work with those that are often cast out on the margins of society. Those that society has deemed as "less than". In today's world, two of these populations of people are abandoned children and people with disabilities. Often times it seems that if someone cannot contribute in a way that society deems as meaningful.. the society then determines that the person themself is meaningless.
However, this line of thinking is exactly opposite of what God tells us is True. Each person has a purpose in this world..and they are so loved by the Creator. In fact, in Luke 14, Jesus tells a story of a master who has prepared a beautiful feast and tells his servant to invite people to the feast. The first people that the servant invites have all of these excuses why they can't come to the feast. The Master than tells the servant to "go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame." The servant did this and then there was still more room at the feast! So the master then said "Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full."
I was recently at a conference where we took this story and dissected it a bit. Back in Jesus' time, most feasts were given in honor of someone that society deemed as important. A big meal was made, everyone drank a lot..and when people were drunk, they would then go out and get people with disabilities to come into the party and dance for them. They would become a source of laughter and mockery for the guests of the feast.
However, the parable from Jesus in Luke 14 once again TURNS THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN.
Jesus is being very direct with who we are to invite to the feast. We are to go out and invite those with disabilities to the feast. Go out specifically to those that society sees as meaningless, and show them how meaningful they are.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12, talks about the members of the body of Christ. When we think of our own body, we may think that there are certain parts of our body that aren't quite as needed. WRONG. We often times think of our body parts as eyes, ears, legs, arms, etc. We forget about our knuckles, fingernails, and elbows. Yikes, imagine if we didn't have these body parts!
Paul tells us that each part of the Body of Christ is valuable, and "in fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary" (verse 22). As a society, we often times see people with disabilities as less than, less important, and weak. But if we are looking at them in that way, and looking at what Paul says, than in fact, the people with disabilities are the most necessary in the Body of Christ, in our churches!
So, if we don't have people with disabilities in our church, we are missing the most important members of our body! We are missing body parts. And..we, as a church, are in fact disabled if we are missing parts of our body. Did you catch that? If we don't have people with disabilities in our churches, our church isn't a whole body- we are missing members- and we are in fact disabled. This is a bold statement I know, but man, it resonates deep within me and within Scripture.
I recently read an article that Iceland has almost 100% eradicated down syndrome through abortion. This disgusts me.
On the other side of the pond, in America, Frank Stephens recently stood up for down syndrome and advocated for more research to be done. Some of his quotes include: "I don't feel I should have to justify my existence..is there really no place for us in the world..let's make our goal to be Alzheimer's free, not Down Syndrome free." Click here if you would like to hear his testimony to the courts.
Almost everytime I watch this video, tears come into my eyes.
Let us all seek to be a body, seek to be a church, that goes out to the streets and the alleys, and then to the countryside to bring those with disabilities to the feast. A feast in their honor. A feast where we experience Fellowship together. Lord, use us and may your Kingdom come!