In the third and final section of the fabulously helpful, intensely practical book Same Lake, Different Boat, Stephanie Hubach makes direct application to the Church. Part three of this blog review will cover chapters 10 through 12, and I will reserve a final post for the concluding chapter.
Quoting from Matthew 23:23-24 in chapter 10, the author urges us to apply Jesus' emphasis on "justice, mercy and faithfulness."
Justice "does not promote compensation of the 'poor' at the expense of the 'great,' but calls for the restoration of a level playing field with regard to the treatment of both groups. The goal is not to show partiality to anyone, but fairness to all... not to convey that people with special needs are somehow God's special people--those who are due extraordinary rights and privileges [but] to restore a fair and respectful treatment of every person as a unique individual created in the image of God" (155). "The antithesis [or opposite] of justice is oppression--the holding down of another--through the use of power ina way that is immoral and inequitable...either actively or passively" (ibid). But she tempers her challenge to those who neglect justice with a warning to those of us who are passionate about advocating for persons with disabilities: "Don't let the callousness of others cause your own heart to become hard or self-righteous. Peaceful change comes through a posture of humility" (158).
Mercy, according to St. Gregory of Nyssa is "a voluntary sorrow which enjoins itself to the suffering of another" (qtd 159). Stephanie points out this definition does not say "others in general--but another--a single, individual, unique, and precious person" (161). Well spoken, Steph!
Faithfulness, finally, is an "unwavering, personal commitment for the duration" reflective of God's faithfulness demonstrated via loyal love.
Chapter 11 discusses God's beautiful design for "unity in diversity" (171). This chapter is chock full of Scripture and then gives practical applications for Christian education (which Stephanie broadens to include Sunday School and other teaching times in a Christian setting, not just formal instruction in a private school setting). Implementing some alliteration, she goes on to discuss applications for Community Life (helping make social connections within the Body), Corporate Worship (urging us to rethink how we define a "disruption," Caring, allowing those with disabilities to Contribute to the life of the Body.
"It takes wisdom to know how to implement those principles effectively" (188). But "graciously engaging individuals and their families in justice, mercy, and faithfulness [is not necessarily] straightforward. [If it were, chapter 12] would be titled 'On Rules: What Every Church Should Do.' Instead, it is aptly titled, 'On Wisdom: Questions Every Church Should Answer'" and asks the following questions: "whom do we help?", "how much do we help?", "when do we help?", "how do we help?", "from where do we help?", and "with what attitude do we help?". This chapter was incredibly helpful for thinking through philosophy of ministry in general, not just disability ministry. For example, my heart was pricked in thinking through some times in our church's inner-city ministry with the following quote: "Carrying around an overinflated view of ourselves and one that lacks genuine respect, we will likely create more harm than good as we condescend to the person who is, quite literally, the 'object' of our ministry" (206). It is so important that we are worshiping with not just to. And that we are ministering from a posture of grace, realizing how great grace has been necessarily bestowed on each of us.
May each of us prayerfully consider the applications and how to answer the questions God has brought to our minds and hearts.