When was the last time you were inconvenienced? Now, let me ask another question, when was the last time you CHOSE to be inconvenienced? I bet for most of us, these two answers look dramatically different. I chose to be inconvenienced when I went to Israel/Palestine this last November. I sat and listened to people of different faiths, color, and lifestyle and it forever changed my heart for the marginalized. The world we are living in is screaming for us to be inconvenienced and to just “sit” with those that are different than us. To not just notice the homeless teenager, to not just notice the Muslim woman, to not just notice the mentally disabled boy, to not just notice the gay neighbor living on your street, but to SEE them as Jesus sees them, human beings who are to be loved as Jesus loved and sat with the Samaritan woman. By sitting with people, I mean sitting with them longer than what makes you comfortable.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” John 4:9
I love the simplicity of this verse! Jesus constantly chose to be inconvenienced in order to get to know people that were different than him. One of my favorite stories is when Jesus went through Samaria instead of going around it like so many Jews did. He chose to go through Samaria, to be inconvenienced, in order to meet and sit with the marginalized, a woman, an adulterer, a Samaritan, but in Jesus’ eyes, a human being. The woman was in awe of the kindness and sincerity that this Jewish man showed her. And because of Jesus sitting with her and listening to her, she was forever changed.
Who are the people we marginalize every day? I have a mentally disabled brother, Tim. He is the most delightful human being I have ever met. And yes, I would consider him to be the marginalized. The mentally disabled community is a community that are one of the most loved by many, however, we fail to get to know these people because we don’t want to be inconvenienced by their disability. Ouch, Rachel. That’s harsh. Well, let me tell you what I mean.
My brother, Tim, has a number of different disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, renpenning syndrome, he is a one in a million kind of guy! He is on a 3-year-old learning level, he can walk (with a limp), and the most unique thing about Tim is that he can’t talk, but oh is he loud! He claps, makes noises, slaps his leg when he’s excited, you get the idea. When people see Tim, they are not quite sure what to do, because you are immediately embraced with a hug, or if you’re lucky, a big, sloppy, wet kiss on the cheek (those are my personal favorite). You literally have to be inconvenienced to sit and learn about Tim, if you choose to not be inconvenienced, you will never SEE him for who he really is, and…you can’t give the marginalized a voice in this loud world. We are good at silencing voices that need to be heard.
What is fascinating about my dear brother is that he literally doesn’t have a voice and yet when you get to know him all you see is Jesus! He embodies what it means to be like Jesus. No matter the color of your skin, the belief you have, the lifestyle you live, Tim will SEE you and embrace you with love. He teaches me every day what it means to love and to forgive. He has endured the hardships of his disability by people who have wronged him, who have taken advantage of him not having a voice. Tim can’t call my mom or dad to tell them that his caregiver is trying to force food down his throat because he can’t tell them he doesn’t want to eat, he can’t call my mom or dad to tell them that his caregiver is mistreating him because he wanted to go to the bathroom but no one paid attention, my brother can’t tell us how much pain he is in with his scoliosis, and as I fight back the tears that always want to make an appearance when I talk about my brother, I ask you again, who are the people we marginalize every day that need to be heard? That we need to sit with? That we need to be inconvenienced by? Tim loves Jesus so much (if you ask him “Tim who loves you?” he points to the sky – oh be still me heart!) and I know that because of his walk – not by his talk (because he has none).
If you had no voice, would people know that you are a Jesus follower? Church, in a world that is screaming for us to listen and not speak, I urge you, no I beg you, to be inconvenienced by those that we choose to ignore because we are afraid. I promise that you will learn what it means to be like Jesus from those that we think are so far from Him.