Happy Elevated Friday! Today we highlight a story that shows just how easy it is to lift someone’s spirits simply by including them. In Leesburg, VA, 4-year-old Maren Anderson has just recently made the transition to a wheelchair because of a rare disease caused by a genetic mutation. For the last three months, Maren has been practicing her navigation skills while she adjusted to her new life. Recently, while Maren and her mother were out in town, Maren saw an Ulta beauty ad with a girl who was also in a wheelchair. Maren’s mother snapped a picture of Maren staring at it in wonder and posted it to Facebook to thank Ulta as well as share that just seeing that picture had completed buoyed Maren’s spirits and changed her mindset on having a wheelchair. Maren’s mother said, “She got to see herself in this picture, and that planted a seed for her to see that there is a place for kids like her in this world. She was included.”
Inclusion is the active form of Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors. It is passive, and not enough, to just not judge others or just tell ourselves that we love others. But when we decide to include others, and incorporate their unique skills and abilities, we show them true Christ-like love. Paul wrote at length about inclusion to the Corinthians, teaching them about how the Church is not just one type of person but all types of people. Just as the Church is made for everyone, so it also needs everyone and their unique contributions. Inclusion is the gospel in action. Today, and every day, be an includer.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. “ – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NIV