What would happen if you decided to treat every person like they are made in the image of God?
Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)
46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside Him. 48 Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Jesus said whoever is the least is the greatest- whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me. Jesus tells us directly in the Bible over and over the importance of the children. When we read the Bible, it’s important that we put it in the context of the culture of that time. It is also important that we look at what the Bible says and apply it to our own culture. This is the difference between and the equal importance of both exegesis and eisegesis.
In our culture, children are seen as important- we see organizations and people advocating for children all the time. People stress the importance of the next generation- and they are right to do so! Children in our culture are welcome. So how do we apply these verses to our culture when we live in a time where children are being welcomed and this verse no longer seems to apply to our lives in exactly the same way it did in the context of history in the Bible?
I believe we must consider who is not being welcomed as substantial, accepted, loved, supported, and embraced members of society. Who would Jesus need to stand up for and say “whoever welcomes this person welcomes Me”? Well, I strongly believe that in our society Jesus would say this about children and adults with unique needs. Welcoming children and adults with special needs matters. We cannot continue to live in a Christian culture that ignores the importance of creating a home within our churches for this population. When we embrace children and adults with special needs, we welcome Jesus. We welcome the One who sent Him not just for a few, but for everyone. Matthew 18:1-4, Mark 9:33-36, Mark 10:13-15.
Let us as churches lead the way in Special Needs Advocacy!