This week I have been auditing a class on Theology of Disability with Amos Yong. It has been really helpful personally. And I think it can be helpful for Creekside as we have been partnering with YoungLife Capernaum for many years.
One of the things that struck me today is how do we do ministry with people with disabilities. This challenged me even deeper because I think there can be a tendency to do ministry at people instead of with people.
One of the truly beautiful things about the incarnation of Jesus Christ is that he was with us. He lived among us. He did ministry with his disciples. If anyone had the right to do ministry at people it was Jesus. But instead he:
6 . . .did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Jesus humbled himself to become a priest for and with:
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Jesus was a priest for us, but also with us. He identifies with our weaknesses (disability even) and was without sin.
As a leader in the church I recognize that I get frustrated when I stop doing ministry with and do ministry at. I get upset when I preach at instead of with. Because when I preach at I feel like I’m in a battle. But when I recognize I’m preaching with the congregation, we are all participating in the message. Sure I did the prep work, I spent the time praying about the text, I rehearsed the message in pre-preach, I did most of the work it seems.
But when it comes to actually preaching, I need to be with the people. I need to learn with the people. I may be speaking but I still need to hear with the people. And together we need to respond to God’s leading. Together we need to take the mission of God into our weeks.
We need to do this with one another. And the only way we can do this with one another is recognizing that Jesus is with us, and the Holy Spirit is with us wherever we go.
Ministry that truly represents the Body of Christ requires with-ness.