What Does Jesus Want Our Churches to Look Like?
I was preparing for an upcoming sermon and came across an interesting passage.
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
I found this passage to be quite challenging for what church should look like. Although the immediate context is about who we have table fellowship with, it is not much of a stretch to apply this to the church.
As a pastor, I need to make a confession. There are certain potential members that I get more excited over more than others.
- A rich person who could be a potentially generous tither.
- A business person or politician who has useful connections and leadership skills.
- A well educated person who has much to give to the congregation.
But what about people with disabilities?
I need to be clear that there are plenty of rich people, business people, politicians and people who are well-educated who also have disabilities.
But in the context, Jesus is talking about people with disabilities who are unable to repay what people give them. There is nothing that they can bring to provide immediate blessings to a congregation by concrete means.
How do we see people with disabilities? Do we see them as people who are going to require more of our valuable time? Do we see them as a distraction from the “excellence” we are trying to achieve in our worship services?
I’m thankful that my church is disability friendly and that we have people with physical and developmental disabilities. Some of them have skills and abilities by which they can bless the church. Others are just people to be loved.
Still, this passage challenges me, even as a dad of two children with disabilities, as to how I see church. What are we doing to really welcome all people?