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19 Mar '11

The Luke 14 Mandate

Posted by T.J. Addington in disabilities, The heart
What would happen if the church took Luke 14:13 literally? But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Jesus is talking about intentionally seeking out the marginalized, the poor, those with disabilities, and those who have nothing to offer us - from the world's point of view (of course they do have something to offer us and it is often profound). If we take Christ at his word, individuals and churches who intentionally seek out the marginalized and minister to them will be blessed by the Father. The reason is obvious: God blesses those who have a heart like Him. This is what He did, how He ministered, who He went out of His way to minister to.

Interestingly, congregations that reach out to families who have members with disabilities find that whole families show up because they want and desire the help and need the support of other families who have the same challenges. And frankly, because so few congregations make this an emphasis, those who invite and welcome the otherwise marginalized and forgotten will see a significant response.

One congregation I know puts on an annual dress up event for young men and women with intellectual disabilities. It is a joyous event as the guys are dressed up in suits and ties and the gals in prom dresses along with their families. A small thing? No, it is a huge event for these families who are being loved on by a congregation.

All too often we associate with and minister to those who are like us or have something to give in return. The Luke 14:13 mandate is that we also intentionally associate with and minister to those who cannot give us anything in return. In this case there is no selfish motive and God's heart shines through in powerful ways. 

For practical tips on ministering to those with disabilities, contact Joni and Friends and ask for their publication "Through the Roof: Assisting churches in developing an effective disability ministry and outreach." It is practical, easy to read and has been used by many congregations. 

God blesses those who take the Luke 14 mandate seriously. It changes our hearts as well.