Your ACT Score Doesn't Count in the Kingdom of Heaven
Cason has been diligently posting pleas online for more workers at Camp Barnabas, especially guys. He and other Barnabas advocates post great videos from camp that we enjoy watching. I love that we have Christian camps where handicapped people can go, and I love that Barnabas philosophy treats people with Downs syndrome and autism as equals, telling them the gospel just like we would to more intellectually-abled people. And isn’t this a great thing about God and His story?
I read this quote from Patricia Conneen in the Biola Lent Project: “Imagine that Matthew had written a much different account of this event—that Jesus, rather than teaching the disciples that the Kingdom belonged to the childlike, taught them that it belonged to those as learned as Socrates or as wise as Solomon. How many of us would immediately disqualify ourselves from the Kingdom? Thankfully, we see Jesus, once again, toppling the prevailing cultural norm and as he does, it falls at the feet of the learned, the leaders, the worldly wise, the wealthy, the self righteous, and even his disciples. They are not disqualified but they undoubtedly need a course correction.”
The world’s wisdom would presume that spiritual enlightenment favors the intelligent, the learned. But Jesus says you must become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. So all of us are eligible. And who are more like children than our friends with intellectual disabilities?
God has built structures into his kingdom that work for the most intelligent and the least intelligent. While teens and young adults (and sometimes we older adults) may tire of traditions, the consistent rituals of church every seven days, the Lord’s supper every week, prayer, singing, weddings, even funerals – these all delight or console and feed all kinds of God’s people. Autistic and mentally challenged people like routine and ritual, so this works for them. The most intelligent people I know find great meaning in these traditions, and they offer transcendent comfort to older people who are nearing the end of life.
So while the world will always favor the wise, the wealthy, the powerful, God works on a different plane. Thank God he does. Probably none of us would make the cut if God had the same value system as the world. As the passage from Isaiah below describes, Jesus came for the overlooked. Truly, the Gospel is for all.
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19