The National Association of Evangelicals produced a document in 2004 called “For the Health of the Nation.” It is not so much about health care reform as about the health of the United States as a nation. The scope of the document reaches far beyond the “traditional” evangelical issues of abortion and marriage. These are included, but other matters of justice feature prominently as well. Fortunately, people with disabilities were not forgotten by the authors.
For example, in a section called, “We work to protect the sanctity of human life and to safeguard its nature,” they write, “Human dignity is indivisible. A threat to the aged, to the very young, to the unborn, to those with disabilities, or to those with genetic diseases is a threat to all.” And in the following section, “We seek justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable,” similarly they quote a number of Scripture passages, then conclude, “The vulnerable may include not only the poor, but women, children, the aged, persons with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, minorities, the persecuted, and prisoners. God measures societies by how they treat the people at the bottom.”
Good words, but I wonder how many Christians live them out. If God measures societies by how they treat the people at the bottom, then churches always should be at the forefront of justice issues for people at the bottom. I served in ministry for 17 years.
I know how challenging it is to be faithful with the trust God gives to pastors and church leadership. How do we maintain buildings; balance budgets; nurture children, youth and adults; worship faithfully; reach out passionately to neighbors; and love each other deeply while also maintaining our commitment to put “people at the bottom” at the top of our priority list?
In a word, it takes intentionality. God’s passion for the “people at the bottom” as expressed in the books of Amos, Ezekiel, and in many other places in Scripture must be our passion as well. God help us to be intentional about justice, about inclusion, about hospitality, about love for all who bear your image. Amen.