There is no Asterisk

Ephesians210

Ephesians210

The concepts discussed in this blog and on this website are not new, but are sometimes received as though they are revolutionary. Yet there is nothing truly unique about these thoughts.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that similar attitudinal structures have been developed by people like Jean Vanier and Bill Gaventa, though they have been, and long before we developed The 5 Stages.

It’s in the Bible

I’m talking about the fact that the foundation for The 5 Stages is found in the Bible. It’s found in the way that Paul, specifically, talks in his letters to Timothy, to the Thessalonians, and to the Ephesians. It’s simply not news.

From 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 Thessalonians 5:11:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So what do those verses have to do with anything? How do they show us that people with disabilities are supposed to be part of our churches, our communities? More than that, how do those verses tell us that people with disabilities are called to the work of the Kingdom?

It’s really simple, actually. There is no asterisk.

People with Disabilities are Called to Kingdom Work

There is no asterisk on these verses. Like an asterisk that would send your eyes to the bottom of the page, where you would see ‘except for people who have disabilities,’ or ‘except for people who are depressed,’ or ‘except for children who can’t communicate.’

But even though there is no asterisk, we often subconsciously put an asterisk on these verses. Are we assuming that people who have disabilities are not called by God to do His work? Do we believe, even slightly, that people with different abilities are not supposed to be challenged, equipped, and encouraged for every good work, “which God has prepared in advance for them to do”?

Who Do You Know that Doesn’t Understand This?

Maybe these questions are for you, and maybe they are for you to ask other people. Are you putting an asterisk on these verses? Are you absolving people with disabilities from the Kingdom work of God?

Because there is no asterisk, unless we put it there.

 

 

danvp_avatarDan Vander Plaats is the Director of Advancement at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights, Illinois, a ministry that exists to equip people who live with disabilities to answer God’s call on their lives. He is also a member of the advisory committee for Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church. In 2009, he developed “5 Stages: The Journey of Disability Attitudes” as a resource for Elim. The 5 Stages helps churches and individuals assess their attitudes toward people with disabilities. He is married to Denise (Hiemstra), and is father to Ben and Emma. They are members of Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Illinois.

 

 

ThereisNoAsterisk_The5Stages

From Brokenness to Community

gwenda-jean

frombrokennessToday, we share a brief quote from the book From Brokenness to Community, by Jean Vanier:

And I come here to tell you how much life these people have given me, that they have an incredible gift to bring to our world, that they are a source of hope, peace and perhaps salvation for our wounded world, and that if we are open to them, if we welcome them, they give us life and lead us to Jesus and the good news.

It is my belief that in our mad world where there is so much pain, rivalry, hatred, violence, inequality, and oppression, it is people who are weak, marginalized and counted as useless, who can become a source of life and of salvation for us as individuals as well as our world.

If you are looking for a great, short book, you will be hard-pressed to find something more thought-provoking, inspiring, or quicker to read than this brief booklet. In it, Vanier, founder of the L’Arche movement, weaves stories of his own experiences into a broader presentation of the impact that weakness and brokenness have on the Christian community.

Here too, though, Vanier points to the age-old question of value. What determines our value. As stated in other posts, our value comes not from our weakness, or from our differences, it comes from the way in which God redeems those aspects of our lives to His purposes. You can read more in our blog post about value.

What do you think? When people come into relationship with those who have disabilities, something powerful happens. What is that? Why does that happen?

 

danvp_avatarDan Vander Plaats is the Director of Advancement at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights, Illinois, a ministry that exists to equip people who live with disabilities to answer God’s call on their lives. He is also a member of the advisory committee for Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church. In 2009, he developed “5 Stages: The Journey of Disability Attitudes” as a resource for Elim. The 5 Stages helps churches and individuals assess their attitudes toward people with disabilities. He is married to Denise (Hiemstra), and is father to Ben and Emma. They are members of Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Illinois.