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DISABLED: AM I GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD?

Across the world, disabled are often excluded, looked down upon, and suffer some of the greatest indignities in society. It is important for us to know whether God accepts or rejects disabled people. 

Let's see.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Levites were chosen by God to serve Him in the Holy Temple as priests. They were descendants of Jacob's son Levi. In the Book of Leviticus, God gives instructions about the role of the priest and who is permitted to serve. In Leviticus 21:16-24, we see a passage of Scripture that at first look may seem harsh and may feel hurtful to read if you are a disabled person. It states the following:

'And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord's food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.'

Blemished

The word 'blemish' here means physical defect or moral stain. However, based on the context of the verses, we know that it is speaking of physical conditions or disabilities. And so, we must ask why God did not permit sick or disabled people to serve in His temple.

We can begin to find the answer in the UK legal definition of disability. According to section 6 of the Equality Act 2010, a disabled person is defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial, long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. To make the distinction between those who are able-bodied and those who are dis-abled, the law identifies that the disabled person is experiencing a deterioration in function, or an incapacitating weakness. This is not an insult but merely a statement of fact to distinguish for legal purposes between those who have this disposition and those who do not. 

Disability as a Symbol

When looking at Leviticus, God makes a distinction between those who are abled and disabled, not as an insult to disabled people but also as a statement of fact. Compared to those who were physically whole, those who were disabled were impaired, or in other words imperfect. He did not make this distinction to be cruel or to reject disabled people. We know this because He allowed them to ‘eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things’. He just did not allow them to serve.

If we look forward to the New Testament, we see that the distinction between non-disabled and disabled serves as a spiritual symbol:

‘But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come… he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption... how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God… For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.’ Excerpted from Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-26

The Perfect Sacrifice

The role of the Levitical priests was to shed the blood of animals as a sacrifice unto to God for the forgiveness of people’s sins. This was atonement so that people did not have to die for their own sins, as the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). This ritual was an earthly symbol of what Jesus would later come to do. The ‘perfect’ human priests – who had no physical blemish - were symbols of the spiritually unblemished Jesus Christ who was to come. Jesus is the Perfect Priest, who is sinless (Hebrews 4:15) and thus without moral stain, who served God by sacrificing Himself and shedding His own blood on behalf of mankind.

 

Abled and Disabled - Spiritually Equal in God's Sight

The passage in Leviticus does not reflect God’s heart towards disabled people. He simply used the earthly reality of sickness and disability to make a spiritual point. We know that ultimately God does not consider non-disabled people to be more worthy than disabled people because the Bible says that no one is spiritually perfect, and there is nothing in Scripture indicating that non-disabled people have a spiritual advantage:

‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.' Ecclesiastes 7:20

 

'…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…’ Romans 3:23

'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.' I John 1:8-10

Disabled and Loved

In our study entitled ‘Disability in the Bible’, we see a loving God who shows great compassion throughout the Old and New Testaments for those who are sick and disabled. There is no way that God would demonstrate such kindness and concern if He deemed disabled people to be less worthy than non-disabled people.

In particular, we see multiple incidents in the Bible of Jesus healing the sick and disabled. Jesus, who is God in the flesh (John 1:14; I Timothy 3:16), explicitly stated that if we see Him, we see His Father (John 14:8-11). This means that God the Father expressed His compassion for disabled people through God the Son – and He still does today. In fact, it is the very distinction between those who are well/able-bodied and those who are not which provided Jesus with the opportunity to demonstrate His love to the world and to show them that He has the glorious power to make us whole and save our souls:

'But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”' Mark 2:10-11

'But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”' Matthew 9:12-13

'As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.' John 9:1-7

So, if you are disabled, are you good enough for God? YES! Instead of being viewed as one to be looked down upon, rejected, or pitied, you should view yourself as Jesus sees you - as someone special, vulnerable sometimes or at all times, needing specific support as necessary, providing others with a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate His love, compassion, and sacrificial service. 

 

God loves disabled people with an everlasting love no less than He does anyone else. If you are disabled, know that Jesus came so that you could be liberated to experience the joy and hope that salvation brings just like anyone else. And this experience is yours now whether you are healed from your disability in this lifetime or the next. Remember that life on earth is not perfect and it will never be. As such, some people may not experience healing from physical or mental impairments while on earth. However, the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the eternal spiritual reward of believing in Him (Matthew 5:3-11):

'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'

If you have questions about Jesus Christ and would like to learn more, please get in touch by completing the form below.

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