Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 10.2.13 – Special Needs: High Functioning Is NOT Our Standard

When you think about special needs, what do you think of? Individuals who are mentally retarded, physically handicapped, autistic, etc. usually come to mind. Special needs indicates that there is some area in which the child or adult is not functioning according to “normal” standards.

My wonderful bride Julie and I adopted a daughter about a year ago who has special needs.  It is likely that she will not function fully in a number of areas as an adult. And while it is our desire to do everything we can do for her to help her maximize her life, there is a standard which is by far more important.

Special needs kids or adults may be near and dear to your heart because you know someone involved in caring for them. You may have limited experience with the area simply due to life circumstances and lack of knowledge.  Either way, this post is for you.

If high functioning is not the most important standard, then what is? The answer in one word: LOVE.

Here are three implications of love and the impact it generates in caring for special needs individuals:

1. The individual is greater than their level of functioning.

Read this another way: I value life! When a special needs individual is loved, it affirms that their life has value. I read that 90% of Down’s Syndrome babies are aborted. What a tragedy! Ask people who care for these amazing individuals if they regret birthing and caring for them. This pastor doesn’t gamble, but I’d be willing to wager the results of that survey . . .

2. Love builds believers up.

Seeing people love and care for special needs individuals is a great way to build up the body.  If all we care about is the individual’s functioning level, then they become a set of developmental statistics.  What a load of hooey!  Loving individuals with physical and mental challenges gives countless opportunities for people to be encouraged – just by SEEING the selfless care being given to the person.

3. God’s love does not consider our performance.

If we love a person based on their ability to “contribute” to society, then we totally misunderstand the notion of God’s love. In God’s eyes, we’re all needy beyond what the human mind can imagine. In fact, we’re so unappealing to God that we’re called objects of His wrath! Check out Ephesians chapter 2 for that description.

God’s love was given to us WHILE we were still sinners – even while we are in our undesirable state, God showed His love to us. The death of Jesus on the cross should revolutionize the way we see life and people. The death of Jesus on a cross should cause us to love all people and desire their best, BEFORE we ever consider their “worth”, “functioning”, or “ability to contribute”.

Think. Are special needs individuals a part of how you think about life and God?

Act. If you’re uncomfortable around special needs people, I’d encourage you to do something to get comfortable.  Volunteer, assist a family, simply give some time and emotional energy – and let God break down those barriers while His love shines through you!

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