Making a World of Difference: Christian Reflections on Disability
by Roy McCloughry and Wayne Morris
SPCK Publishing (2002), 160 pages
FES Library book call number: 248.86 MCC
Jesus was not a disabled person. He was not a woman. He lived in a different time of history. How then would he be able to identify with us or these groups of people mentioned? When Jesus was crucified, he was unable to move. He experienced tremendous pain. None of us can escape the experience of pain. It is or will be felt at some point in our lives. In Luke 24, after Jesus was resurrected, he had his disciples see and feel his hands and feet. Here lies the paradox: an impairment (scars) remains after the resurrection. Sin has been atoned for. Atonement goes beyond the forgiveness of individual sins. It includes the restoration of the relationship between man and God and man to others.
The touching of his scars challenges the taboo of the physical avoidance of disabled people. The disabled person also often ends up feeling shamed when there is no cure for the condition. Perhaps no one is to be blamed and it could be a result of structural evil (think about landmines that maimed innocent people in some countries). At times, the formation of one’s perspectives may be more important than the healing of the actual condition. When Jesus healed people, it did not only involve the main characters who recovered from their physical impairments. There was often an audience witnessing the event. If atonement involves the restoration of relationships, the act of healing should therefore be one where people experience God regardless of whether they have been healed. However, more often than not, healing seems to be an act of exclusion rather than one of inclusion as God had intended it to be. During worship services, we hear the terms “let us all rise” or “let us close our eyes”. Have we considered how these terms would come across to a disabled person participating in the congregational worship amidst abled bodied people? The perception of disability still needs to be re-considered. A disabled person is able to contribute with their unique gifts and experiences. A true community in Christ is one where all are treated equally, a living testament of the broken body of Christ at work in redeeming the world.
This book was written to encourage Christians with little or no theological training to reflect on how we have been relating to the topic of disability. Using case studies, the authors offer practical advice on what individuals and churches can and should do to make a difference to the disabled brothers and sisters who are part of our community.
Hilda Ng Hsiao Huei
Personnel, Resources, and Training
TP SCF Graduate (2001)