Pastor John got it right when he pleaded with the congregation to see people with disabilities in his sermon, Why Was This Child Born Blind:
This is our natural reflex—see and avoid. But we are not natural people. We are followers of Jesus. We have the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts. We have been seen and touched in all our brokenness by an attentive, merciful Savior.
If you want to be one of the most remarkable kinds of human beings on the planet—a Jesus kind—see people with disabilities.
But he didn’t end there!
See them. And move toward them. God will show you what to say.
I need to hear that! I usually don’t know what to say or do when encountering a new person with a disability. What should I say, or not say. I don’t want to offend; it really would be easier just to avoid!
In fact, I think I have more to fear than ‘normal’ people because I remember when I looked for reasons to be offended at the slightest, most subtle word or look from another person regarding my son or his disability. Depending on my mood, I might decide to take that person apart rhetorically. And this was after we had returned to church – I still harbored a lot of pain and distrust that I was ready to spill out on people in harmful ways.
Then one day a little old saint, using terms for disabilities she must have learned in the 1930′s and 40′s that we now consider offensive, communicated such tender affections for me and for my son that God quite literally wiped away the bitter heart and biting, sarcastic tongue I used in those situations. I remember thinking, IN THAT MOMENT, this is strange; why am I not angry about her words? God did that for both of us.
I have also lashed out at people in evil, vile ways, looking to make people hurt as much as I did. I’m guessing those folks walked away not thinking they had made a positive difference, maybe even questioning why God had prompted them to talk with me in the first place. And God used those moments as well, eventually breaking me of my pride and self-righteousness and giving me a heart that wanted to trust him and not do things like that anymore.
My point is simply this: God is not limited in any way by what we know or don’t know or even the words we use. Nor does he say it will end in ‘success’ when we step out in faith to pursue the good of others. Jesus did that and they killed him.
That old saint, in faith, pursued me with affection and God protected her and blessed me. Others were rhetorically punched in the nose. Both bring glory to God.
And Pastor John has also taught us what to do. Simply ask, “Jesus, help me.” Then move.