16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God.18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame,disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’”
Recently, I was praying about why people with disabilities are treated as second class citizens. One of the things that hit me was even the title of “Disability” has such a negative meaning. Think of the words: “dis”grace, “dis”honor, “dis”like, just to name a few. Dis means without. People who are disabled are certainly not without ability. Their function may be limited, but certainly these people are valued individuals.
In the church setting many of us have experienced rejection and this negative label becomes a point of shame. One passage that many have cited as particularly hurtful is Leviticus 21:16-23. Moses is told a whole list of qualifications to give his brother in regard to whether priests can fulfill their duties with a disability. Let’s take a closer look at this passage.
God clearly outlines in this passage that he expects or should I say demands as close to perfection as possible from the priests offering the food sacrifices. God’s instructions regarding the Tabernacle and the priests who serve d in it are very precise. He expects perfection to illustrate the way in which God expects the final sacrifice of Christ to be the perfect lamb unblemished. These verses by no means were intended to hurt or alienate people with these particular conditions.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
Psalm 145:8-9 affirms that “ALL” people are loved by God. This passage does say however that only the people who believe in Jesus Christ will experience the grace provided to believers.
I believe it is time to focus on the positive aspects of disability. One way I am convicted to do this is to take a different person afflicted with a disability every week and show how incredibly blessed this person was and also show God’s love towards this person. Let us all arm ourselves with these examples from the Bible to help teach fellow believers the importance and necessity of including those with disabilities into our church families.
It is my prayer that you will acknowledge the pain and sting of rejection for our disabilities, but you do not stay long at this painful point; instead you realize and give praise for the many examples of God’s love and glory through disabilities.