4 Principles of Accessibility and the Church found in Mark 2
In Mark 2, we read a story of Jesus forgiving & healing a paralyzed man. This man was brought to Jesus by 4 men who carried him on a mat. When they arrived to the place Jesus was, they couldn’t fit through the crowd. Determined to bring their friend to Jesus, the men climbed onto the roof, dug through the ceiling, & lowered the paralyzed man down through the hole, laying him before Jesus. Jesus, recognized the great faith this took. He then forgave & healed the paralyzed man.
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
This story can serve as a model of the lengths we should go to fully include the disabled in our church communities. Here are some takeaways:
1. It is appropriate for the many to sacrifice so that the one can be included. It took 4 men to carry this 1 man to Jesus. They willingly gave their time & energy to ensure he could be in the presence of our Savior. Likewise, the non-disabled in our churches ought to go to great lengths to ensure the full inclusion of our disabled brothers & sisters.
2. We shouldn’t give up when accessibility is an issue. We must work to ensure all have access to Jesus (or, in our case, a church community). The crowds were too dense. The men couldn’t find a conventional way to get to Jesus. But they persevered until their friend was given full access. We, likewise, ought to work in our churches to ensure access is available to all.
3. Our pursuit of inclusion may cause disruption. When there was no easy way to get their friend to Jesus, the men dug a hole in the roof. This surely made a mess & interrupted Jesus’ teaching. Nonetheless, Jesus was pleased with the faith of the friends who believed this to be a worthwhile disruption. Likewise, when we work to create an accessible church community, our routines & programs may be disrupted. This should not discourage us from pressing on. Some level of disruption is likely necessary.
4. Inclusion benefits all. The story ends with the paralyzed man forgiven & healed & with the crowds filled with awe & praising God for the great things he’d done. Our entire church community benefits when the marginalized are prioritized.
How have you seen your church community work to provide access to all? Tell me in the comments!