Friday, March 18, 2011

Dreams and Mental Disability 3/16/2011


The question was what causes your dreams.  I’m no scientist, so I’m not going to get too deep into that one.  I’m sure we dream for a bunch of different reasons.  Some people say it’s something you ate before going to bed.  Some say it’s what you were thinking about before you fell asleep.  It could be just a subconscious thing.  Then sometimes it is God speaking to us.  The Bible is full of examples of God speaking through dreams.  Sometimes He was giving direction to His people like in the case of Jacob (Gen 28) or Joseph (Gen 37).  In Abimelek’s case it was a warning (Gen 20:3).  Sometimes God would give dreams to ungodly leaders in order to reveal His glory through God’s servants like Joseph (Gen 41) or Daniel (Just check out the whole book of Daniel).  So what do we take from a dream?  Is it always God speaking?  Not all the time, but if He is speaking we need to be listening.  The Bible is very clear that in the last days God will speak to us through dreams (Joel 2:28).  When God does speak it will be for a purpose, it will line up with scripture and ultimately it will bring glory to God.

Mental Disability:

Then the discussion turned toward our mental ability.  It started with a question about a situation where a woman was treating a doll as if it were a real baby.  A student asked if that was a sin.  I’m not sure if it’s sin or just plain weird.  But we looked a little deeper and the issue here is an obsession.  Anything that we allow in our lives to rule over us or take our attention away from God becomes sin to us.  It is basically idolatry at the heart of it (Ex 20:3-6).  We continued on this thought to the question of people who are mentally disabled.  How will God hold them accountable if they are not able to grasp the concept of salvation?  We believe in an “age of accountability.”  In other words there is a point in our lives at which we are mentally able to grasp the concept of salvation.  It’s not some arbitrary number.  It’s just the point where we can understand that we are all sinners (Rom 3:23) in need of God’s grace.  We understand the penalty of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and that God paid that penalty.  When we ask forgiveness of our sins and choose to live our lives for Christ then we are saved (Ac 2:38; Rom 10:9-10).  Until a child reaches the age that they can understand all of this we believe God in His infinite wisdom will judge accordingly.  The same would apply to a mentally disabled person.  We are dealing with a mental age here, not a chronological age.  We must be faithful to minister the gospel in all situations.  Children and those with disabilities may be able to grasp more than we give them credit for.  And God has a way of developing a relationship with His children that we may not understand.  I do find it interesting that Jesus said these were the ones that made up the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:14).

The follow up question arose, “what about people who live a normal life and then are disabled by an accident?”  The simple answer is that they had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ before they were disabled and God will judge accordingly.  It would be just as if they had died at that moment of disability.  God would judge them on where they were spiritually at that moment.  We can take comfort in knowing that our God’s plan is always perfect, He always does what is right and just, and his love and mercy are infinite and everlasting.

The following is a quote from the Assemblies of God’s statement on ministry to people with disabilities:

People with disabilities are essential to the wholeness of the Christian community. In a culture that worships physical perfection, devalues human life, and takes pride in disposability, the church must protect the helpless, vulnerable, disenfranchised, including people with disabilities. They are people created in God’s image, possessing dignity, value, and purpose.
The church must extend open arms of invitation and fellowship. Those with mental disabilities can respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Paul reported the answer he received when he asked that his thorn in the flesh be removed: “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’”(2 Corinthians 12:9). We can trust God to reveal His power through the weakness of those with disabilities.

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