Pride And Prejudice Part 1: Disability
On Sunday 25th June at our morning service, we started our series Pride and Prejudice with the topic 'Disability'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
The dictionary definition of the word disability is: A physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.
Disabilities are part of the lives of many of us.
Does having a disability mean that we are not loved by God? No it doesn’t! God loves everyone. Do our disabilities mean that we are excluded from God’s family, His church? No, they don’t. We can all choose to follow Jesus – giving our lives to Him in response for what he has done for us by dying on the cross so that we can have a restored relationship with God. We can all choose to part of God’s family. Does the fact that we may have a disability mean that we are any less useful to God? No it doesn’t.
Many of you will have heard us talk before about Abs Dumbuya – a man who whilst growing up in Sierra Leone contracted Polio and as a consequence lost the use of his legs. Abs gets around by using crutches. Does his physical disability stop him from being part of God’s family or from doing God’s work? – no it does not - in fact it is precisely because he is disabled that he has been such a great influence in matters of disability in Sierra Leone!
Many of us have dealt with or are dealing with hidden disabilities and conditions. Some of us are struggling with our mental health. These disabilities can be crippling for not only an individual but a family as well. But, having a hidden disability does not change how God views us. He loves us all!
This blog is the first of three under the banner of pride and prejudice – why? Well, intentionally or unintentionally we can all be prejudice against people with a disability. Even in church this can happen. I have heard of two people recently, who have come to worship here on a Sunday morning who were not spoken to by anyone during their time here and one of these happened last week!
If, as Christians, we are really trying to follow the example of Jesus then how could this have happened? Jesus would have been the first to talk to these individuals and to recognise their worth. He would have shown them his love by spending time with them, listening to them and sharing their lives. Surely, we should be following His example!
I don’t know if you are aware but the word disabled or disability appears absolutely nowhere in the Bible! Yet in it we read of many individuals who have a disability – some of these people were healed by Jesus as he went about his ministry but a significant number of individuals were used by God despite their disability.
It is widely believed that Moses (a man in the Old Testament part of the Bible) had a disability. But before you read the passage below let me put in context! God appeared to Moses from a burning bush. He asked Moses to go and speak to the Israelites (his chosen people) and to Pharaoh (the ruler at that time) about setting the Israelites, who were currently slaves of the Egyptians, free - but Moses was very reluctant. He even questioned God’s choice by saying: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” You can read about this by clicking here. He didn’t feel that he was the right person for the job. Moses then asked God (and I paraphrase here). How am I supposed to explain this to the Israelites themselves? (And God gives him a detailed answer). Moses then follows on with the question “What if they don’t believe me, or listen to me? “ So, God enabled Moses to perform three miracles if they required proof. Even after all of this Moses still tries to get out of going and this is where we pick up today’s passage! You can read this by clicking here.
There are three things that I would like to draw out of this passage. The first relates to Moses:
Moses was very reluctant to do what God was asking him to do. He pleaded with God “No, Lord, don't send me. I have never been a good speaker, and I haven't become one since you began to speak to me. I am a poor speaker, slow and hesitant.” (v10)
He felt inadequate – he didn’t feel that he would be able to do what was being asked of him, but God was having none of it. We don't know whether he had an actual speech impediment such as a stutter, or whether he suffered from a disabling degree of anxiety. Either way, God still expected him to go and give Pharaoh his message!
God can, and does, use every one of us. We all have a part to play and our part is important. It makes no difference whether we are male, female, young or old, whether we have a disability or whether we don’t.
We all have a part to play.
My second point is that:
God provided additional support for Moses in the form of his brother Aaron who was sent along to be his spokesman. “What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak well… You can speak to him and tell him what to say.” (v14)
God uses people as a support for each other.
The third and final thing I would like you to think about from this passage relates to how God responded to Moses’s fears and difficulties: He says:
“I will help both of you to speak, and I will tell you both what to do.” (v15)
God is with us – he will walk alongside us and help us if we trust in Him.
Whoever we are, and whatever our personal circumstances one thing that we can be certain of is that whatever it is that God is asking us to do, whatever we are going through, he will be there with us – supporting us and guiding us through it. We don’t have to do everything in our own strength!
We are all important to God, we each have a different part to play and we should support and encourage one another as we do what God is asking us to do taking great care that we are not prejudice against anyone.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. When was the last time you spoke to someone in church who you didn’t know – disabled or able-bodied?
2. What is it that is stopping us from spending time with people that are different from us – whether that difference is race, gender, age or disability?
3. Why is so hard to start a conversation with someone that we don’t know?
4. What do we need to do as individuals to show God’s love to everyone around us?
5. We all have a part to play – what is God asking you to do?
6. God uses people as a support for each other. Who can you get alongside and support?
7. God is with us – he will walk alongside us and help us if we trust in Him. Are you trusting in Him? How could you trust in Him more?