“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Roman 1:16-17 (NRSV)
Some days I check the main newspaper from my home country, Colombia, to see how the nation is doing. Although mass media does not give you a faithful picture of the situation, mass media helps to paint an idea. It is up to you to investigate farther and have the whole story. Well, just a few days ago, a video from YouTube made the headlines in every media: TV, radio, etc. A well known Christian church leader commented in a recorded gathering that -I am paraphrasing- people with physical disabilities or handicapped individuals should not be allowed to serve God from the pulpit. This comment broke apart the body of Christ & created a public debate.
The leader’s interpretation of Leviticus book was the foundation of her comment.
“18For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21No descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God” (21:18-21 NRSV).
Based on these verses, the Christian leader said that if one is missing a finger, lacking an arm, a hand, or sight that person could not stand up in the pulpit to preach the word of God. Her theology was based on the fear that other members may be scared by seeing someone preaching in the pulpit without a body part, so they will not go back to that church.
This real episode of today’s church is not brought up to blame one particular leader. In fact, this is what has been taught for centuries in our churches, as well as teachings about the limited participation of women in leadership, and other themes. I brought this up so we can invite each other to reflect and keep accountable. So we can see if we have been that leader in our church, home, school, work, or street that casts out those who don’t have a voice in our society.
We need to ask ourselves have we justified our actions, thoughts, and even moral values through misinterpretations of the God’s will? Have we taken God’s name to justify doctrines in our church that harm the most precious treasure of God; God’s people?
Paul brings a fresher reminder of the infinite Grace. Since this Grace is given, this is a great time to start thinking we may not be the ones deciding who are Grace recipients. Grace does not distinguish between Jews or Greeks, physical appearance, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, nationality, or socio-economic status.
After cases of segregation, I am ashamed. I am ashamed when we play to be God while doing no good for the Kingdom. I am ashamed for the spiritual and physical lives we, as church, have taken away from God’s will. Instead, we spend our energies defending doctrines that do no good to the Body of Christ. I am ashamed of a church taking comfortable positions, and looking for its own convenience, going against the Church’s principles that God intends to form. I am ashamed when separation takes place in church history. Yes, people, let’s be ashamed of injustice, so we may be driven to redirect our self toward God’s will. Paul invites us to not be ashamed of the Gospel, del Evangelio, the Good News, las Buenas Nuevas, because they are the core and source of our strength, love, and faith.
Prayer: Holy and merciful God. We pray for your forgiveness. Forgive us for claiming the authorship of your creation and accommodating your word to our convenience. Help us to reflect and self-evaluate on our manners and understanding of the Gospel, so our will becomes yours. Cover us with passion to receive everyone in the Church that you intend for us; a Church of love, grace, compassion, and favor. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Infinite Grace Fellowship