Sunday, January 23, 2011

#6 – We practice what we preach

We who say we live by the Bible,
and call ourselves “Christ-followers”,
tend to make some claims that others call radical.

From the time we were little, we’ve sung,
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”

So we say God loves everyone, regardless of race, language, gender, appearance or ability.

We quote Psalm 139, which says we’re so precious to God that He’s noted every little thing about us since before we were conceived.

So we say all of human life is valuable to God, and take a decidedly pro-life stance.

And we tell the story of Jesus welcoming the children,
even when His adult followers told the children to go away.

So we say everyone, no matter how small or weak, has the right (and the need) to know God personally.

God loves everyone.
Every person is precious to God.
Everyone has the right and need to know God personally.

We believe those things with all our hearts.

Or do we?

When we send a child home from every church program...
simply because she has Down syndrome, we’re saying,

“God might love everyone... but He loves those who are able-bodied and able-minded more.”

When we hear ourselves saying, over and over, that church guests who have disabilities should “try the big church down the street because they have a special program,” we’re saying,

“God might treasure everything about you... but we’re pretty sure we don’t.”

When we repeatedly watch a mother carry her teenaged child in a wheelchair up a long flight of church stairs,
and refuse her requests to build a ramp, we’re saying,

“Only people who are able-bodied have the right to know God personally.”

Sadly, these examples are recent and true.

We sometimes “say” these things through our actions, even while blithely voicing the opposite belief.


When a children’s pastor says, “I don’t know much about children with special needs, but I’ll learn everything necessary to support and welcome your child...”

...we’re practicing what we preach.

Jesus does love all the children of the world!

When we spend hours training volunteer buddies to come alongside kids with autism so they can enjoy VBS along with their typically-developing peers....

...we’re practicing what we preach.

God treasures everything about you... and we want to know you, too!

When we say, “How can we help you get to church?” rather than “I don’t think we can make this work...”

...we’re practicing what we preach.

Everyone does have the right to know Jesus personally!

Am I getting a little personal here?
I hope I am.
Many of you see yourself in the second set of examples.
You know who you are.
You always think you’re not doing enough,
But the truth is, you’re already making an enormous difference.
May God give you grace to keep on practicing what you preach!

Some of you,
if you’re honest,
will see a bit of yourself in the first set of examples.
But the good news is that your past doesn't have to be your future.
I pray God will help you open your heart,
make small changes in your attitude
that bring about big changes in your actions....
And enable you, too,
To practice what you preach.

The really good news is that God does love us all,
He treasures every little thing about us,
and He wants us all to know Him personally.

That’s true even if we have disabilities
....and even when we don’t practice what we preach.

#7 – Next Up -- We give the world a truer picture of the Church

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