It’s a compelling story, and one we serving in inclusion ministry need to be sharing over and over again. The Body of Christ is not complete unless every part of that Body is included. This means opening doors and reaching out to those with special needs. It’s that simple and that hard.
This week, many of us in the wider community of those serving in disability ministry have the privilege of making our case for the “Why” through Key Ministry’s innovative week-long INCLUSION FUSION Web Conference. In a broad variety of ways, this years faculty is sharing that message to attendees. To many it would seem like a no-brainer. Do you want biblical mandates for serving those with a diagnosis? Here are just a few:
- “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)
- At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. (Zephaniah 3:19, NIV)
- Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite only your friends, your family, your other relatives, and your rich neighbors. At another time they will invite you to eat with them, and you will be repaid. Instead, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they have nothing and cannot pay you back. But you will be repaid when the good people rise from the dead.” (Luke 14:12-14, NCV)
- Do the right thing for the weak and those without a father. Stand up for the rights of those who are suffering and in need. (Psalm 82:3, NLV)
- We encourage you, brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not living right, cheer up those who are discouraged, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14, GW)
What about biblical mandates calling for ALL (that would include those with special needs) to serve in the Church? Here’s probably the most powerful case for full inclusion in the work of the faith community:
- Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:14-26, NIV1984)
To put a wrapper around all of these commands, “So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NCV) If we are Jesus’ ambassadors, our work is completely INCOMPLETE if we are not reaching out and drawing into service those living with the many facets of physical, cognitive or emotional diagnoses. This weeks fabulous web summit shows anyone and everyone exactly what that looks like in full context.