Monday, April 6, 2009

Grace and Relationship

Disclaimer: I am not a Bible scholar, I am just a person who has read the Bible for 24 years, and heard countless sermons. I am a person who believes that we can use the Bible to understand the heart of God and therefore understand how He wants us to act. For some, it may seem like a stretch that the Bible has something to say about a “modern” topic like inclusion of special needs children, but there have been special needs people throughout history, and by examining what the Bible says about them we can learn a lot. I’m only going to focus on one passage in this post, but we’ll eventually look at more as we go along.

In II Samuel 5:8 we read that "The 'blind and lame' will not enter the palace" which sounds exclusive. Keep the disabled out, in essence, at least from the “best” places. Where does this statement come from? Reading a few verses before we learn that David, newly crowned as King of Israel, marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites. David wanted Jerusalem to be the center of his kingdom. The Jebusites thought they were invincible because of the natural and man made defenses around the city, so they said, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” David knew a secret passageway into Jerusalem called the water shaft, and said he would use that to reach, “the ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” After David defeated the Jebusites and took Jerusalem, it became a saying that “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.” Initially, at least, it appears this was a snub against the Jebusites, rather than those who could not see or walk. It is unclear whether or not physical exclusion from the palace eventually became the practice of the day.

However, a few chapters later (II Samuel 9) David fulfills a vow to his old friend Jonathan (I Samuel 20:14-17) by seeking out Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth so that he can show him kindness. Mephibosheth is crippled in both feet due to an accident when he was a young child. Apparently David could have used this as an excuse to avoid or limit his kindness. Instead, David gives Mephibosheth all of the land that once belonged to his grandfather, Saul, and tells him, “…you will always eat at my table.” (II Samuel 9:7). One might ask, if Mephibosheth was to inherit all of Saul’s land (and all of the servants to work the land) why did he need to eat at the King’s table (in the palace) every day? David is going above and beyond any standard of fairness or justice here. He is lavishing grace and a desire to have a relationship on Mephibosheth. It is, in fact, a picture of God’s grace to us. I believe it is also a clear picture of how God would have us treat those with special needs: with grace and an opportunity to build relationship.

Part one Inclusion
Part three Inclusion
Part four Inclusion
Part five Inclusion


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