Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Making Room for the Disabled

"After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.” (Mark 2:1-5 MSG)


Ever been to a crowded movie theater and tried to find two seats together?

My husband always handles the situation with ease. He simply approaches people and asks them if they wouldn’t mind moving over so we can sit side by side. And the people always do.

People do it everywhere.

Public transportation, crowded auditoriums, busy sidewalks. We move over when necessary in order to make room for others. It’s common courtesy.

So why is it that many churches seem unable to follow this principle? The simple social convention of making room?

My family, like many special needs families, underwent a bad church experience. My son was pushed aside and rejected. It was a congregation that prided itself on numbers -- X number in attendance, X number confessions of faith, X number baptized. And yet, they decided through both action and inaction NOT to make room for my child.

Special needs families, like all familes, are hungry for community. They need a place to belong, a place of acceptance, a place where they are welcome -- disabilities and all. But sadly, most are not finding such a place in our churches.

Too many churches are afraid or unwilling to make room for the disabled. 

  • To make room for those who look or act differently. 
  • To make room for people who make them feel uncomfortable.

This is unacceptable and it is anti-gospel.

It reminds me of the friends of the paralyzed man in Mark’s gospel.

They had a friend with a disability. They knew he needed Jesus and they insisted upon taking him. But when they got to the house where Jesus was, there was no way in. Well, at least not through the door. The crowd was too dense and they were carrying a full-grown man on a stretcher.

They could’ve easily said, “Let’s go home. There’s no room. This is too hard. We don’t know how to do this.” And left it at that.

But love and compassion drove them to do more. It drove them to find a solution, even though the situation seemed daunting and too complex. 

So the four men made a way. They put on their thinking caps and came up with a plan.

They climbed to the roof, dug through the layers, and lowered their friend down into the house. Unusual means, yes, but they discovered a clever way to make room for their friend so that Jesus could heal him.

And how did Jesus react? Was he angry that the man dropped out of the ceiling? Was he aggravated with the four friends for not waiting in line?

Absolutely not! In fact, just the opposite was true. He praised the friends for their faith in making a way, making room, using whatever means necessary to see their friend come to healing. It is because of their faith that He healed the man.

This is the church’s call when it comes to disability. We are commanded to love and to serve one another.

And in the area of special needs, it means that we -- as a church, the body of Christ Himself -- need to do whatever it takes, whether or not it’s what we WANT to do, and whether or not it’s within our comfort zone, to make room for any and all at the Lord’s table.

We simply must make room in our churches for the disabled.

  • Crowded buildings and classrooms shouldn’t stop us.
  • Limited resources shouldn’t stop us.
  • Lack of knowledge, training, basic understanding shouldn’t stop us.
  • The fact that most of us are lay people and volunteers shouldn't stop us.
  • And our own discomfort should never stop us.
There is no excuse for refusing to make room in God’s kingdom for another soul -- disabled or not.

Will you join me in standing up and insisting that we make room for the disabled within our faith communities?

It’s exactly what Jesus wants you to do.


Father God, forgive us for the times we've closed our doors and our hearts to people who need to see Your light in us. We get so comfortable with the status quo, with the way we’ve always done things. Lord, please give us new eyes. Give us eyes to see the hurting, the desperate, the needy all around us. Soften our hearts and give us the vision to do whatever it takes to include all, to welcome all, to make room for all within our local bodies. Strengthen our hands and guide us as we seek to further your kingdom. Amen.


  1. I agree with what you said about churches and not only is it anti-Gospel and unacceptable, it is also ableism. As an autistic adult, I have been there and I know what it's like to be treated like I am less-than or Othered. I don't like being told that I'm not autistic, and I don't like how we as disabled people are treated in society. I also don't like when people tell me that they're gonna pray my autism off of me. I have had Christians on facebook tell me that I am not autistic, and I have had a Christian tell me that she/he is gonna pray my autism off of me. That is why I left the Christian facebook page that had an ableist as an admin on it.

    I am a twenty-seven year old autistic adult. I pray that one day ableism ends and we will come together as a church to step up and at least start to CARE about disabled people. I am housebound. I don't have a job or a car. It is not up to any Christian to judge but Christians should love, serve, and minister to the disabled people. It is their place to love, serve and minister to the disabled people, but not their place to be judge and jury. I am glad you have posted this blog.

    Thank you for making this blog. I will subscribe to you.

  2. Sheri Dacon always knows how to get to the heart of a matter, mincing no words. Thank you for adding this powerful link to DifferentDream.com's Tuesday special needs link up.