September 11, 2015

Every Part Counts

1 Corinthians 12:7-20

God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

—  1 Corinthians 12:18

This is a true story; only the names have been changed:

Sam, a man with intellectual disability, began attending First Church. He was very friendly—in fact, too friendly. He had a habit of hugging women in church and kissing them on the lips.

More than once, the council at First Church discussed what to do with Sam. At one such discussion, some council members wanted Sam to leave. But another said passionately, pounding his fist on the table, “No. God brought Sam here. We need Sam here. We must find a way for Sam to stay.”

Whether or not he was thinking of 1 Corinthians 12:18, that council member’s statement reflected the essence of this passage. God put Sam at First Church, just as God wanted to.

First Church did not tolerate Sam’s behavior. Not only did the leaders remind Sam that he was not to kiss women at church, but they also ensured that Sam had a chaperone with him at all church activities.

One Sunday I led worship at First Church. Sam was one of the first people there that day. He called out to the elder helping me, “Where’s my friend today?” Amazing! The men who started out as chaperones for Sam had become his friends. God had placed this part of the body just as he wanted it to be, and the whole church grew in love as a result.

God, sometimes I wish certain people were not at my church. Forgive me. Teach me to welcome and love others as you have done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

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