December 19, 2007

Autism in God’s Economy: For All of Us Who Have Failed in Our Duty

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.


There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

When those of us with autistic people in our lives take a hard, honest look at ourselves, we realize the question is not have we failed them, it is how often and how big have we failed them.

I am in love with Chandler. It is difficult to describe well the feelings that I have for him because they are so powerful. I have changed my whole life around to make his better. Yet I fail him on a daily basis. Ten times a day he asks me for things that I don’t give him because I can’t understand him. Ten times a week he needs something that I don’t give him because I am fried from the 90 things I did give him. At least ten times since his regression I have completely lost my mind and collapsed into a pile of sobs or screams in front of him because I just couldn’t take it any more. Once I even locked myself in the bathroom to get away from him because I knew I was close to loosing it.

What was it that you did, that you know was wrong?

Are you short tempered with your child? Are you a parent who has mentally and emotionally checked out from their child because trying to connect is too painful and too hard? Are you a caregiver who ignores the autistic person entrusted to your care when no one is looking? Have you lied about someone with autism because you knew they couldn’t set the record straight? Are you an employer who is taking advantage of your autistic employee because you know you can get away with it? Are you a private school director who has gotten rid of an autistic student illegally because you knew their family wouldn’t have the resources to sue you? Are you a priest who has sexually assaulted a child who you knew could not tell?

God has seen it all.

What you have done to them, you have done to Jesus Christ himself.

What you have done was not just an offense against that autistic person, that was an offense against God and has earned you a death sentence.


There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

So then, in this black and white issue, where is the line? If failing the Least of These results in goathood, and if even the most well intentioned of us have failed them, then how in the world are any of us ever considered sheep? What is it that will allow those of us who have failed in our duty to gain forgiveness for it?


Good old fashioned repentance.

It is the only thing that stands between receiving God’s mercy and earning God’s justice.

So just what is repentance exactly? You don’t often hear a good definition of what God actually means for us to do in his command for us to “repent”. Is it feeling bad about what you did or didn’t do? Saying you are sorry? Both of those things are part of it, but that is not really what repentance is.

Here is how God defines repentance:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

"Speak to the sons of Israel, 'When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty,

then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged.

'But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement, by which atonement is made for him.”

Repentance requires three things:

1. Guilt.

Internal conviction of legitimate wrong doing. In this, “I’m OK, Your OK” world, guilt has become a bad word. In God’s economy, guilt is a GOOD thing. It means your conscience works correctly. It motivates you to govern yourself appropriately. Guilt over the things you have done wrong is a gift granted to you by God.

If you did something wrong, and you don’t feel bad about it, worry. How did you get to the place that you can mistreat people, shirk your responsibility and feel fine about it? Once you ignore your feelings of guilt long enough, without addressing what you have done wrong, you begin to sere your conscience, and you can commit bigger and bigger offenses and feel no guilt at all.

2. Confession.

Saying out loud, to the person whom you have wronged, “I have wronged you and what I did wrong was _______________. What I should have done was ________________.”

One of the reasons that God requires this is because confession heals. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”... Confession heals all involved.

Remember a time when someone came to you in humility and finally admitted to treating you badly. Remember how much better you felt when they did?

Remember a time when you went to someone in humility and admitted to treating them badly. Remember how much lighter you felt afterward?

Speaking the truth heals. It frees you from secrets and lies.

3. Restitution.

Clean up your mess.

True conviction brings the desire to set things right. To tell the truth to the people you lied to. To give back the thing you stole. To heal the person that you hurt. To advocate for the person you have ignored.

It changes you from a taker into a giver. It turns you into someone who wants to serve the person you have wronged. It drives you to invest in them.

And restitution done right does not only bring things back for that person to the way they were before you made that selfish decision, it makes it 20% better. It is going over and above what you took!

Repentance that does not cost you, is not repentance.

Repentance that is forced on you is not repentance.

Repentance that requires conditions from the person that was wronged is not repentance.

Repentance that does not free you from guilt is not repentance.

Saying, “If I did anything to upset you, I am sorry,” or ,”Sorry if you are angry”, is not repentance.

If it does not include confession of sin and restitution and it does not heal, it is not repentance.

Repentance will cost you your pride. For some it will also cost you your social standing, your reputation and your friends. For some it will cost a lot of money. For some it will cost you your jobs and even your careers. For some it will cost you your family. For some it will cost you your freedom. For a few it will cost you your lives.

But what does a man profit if he gains the whole world but looses his soul?

So everything in this series leads up to this question:

Will you repent of what you have done to the Least of These... of what you have done to Jesus?

Some of you will not, because you don’t really believe Matthew 25 is true.

But for those of you who do believe:

Go back into the other room to your autistic child, who you don’t even believe can hear you, confess to him how you have wronged him and start to set things right. It does not matter if you think he understands the apology or even the offense.

Find that weird guy from high school that you picked on in the early 1960’s and tell him what you did was wrong and ask how you can make it right. If he can’t figure out a way, you think of something to make restitution. What did you take from him (friends, dignity, self-esteem) and how can you give it back to him?

Stand up in the staff meeting and admit to everyone that the mistake was yours, not the mistake of the geek in the IT department.

Publicly apologize for the rumors that you started to cover your ass.

Call the family that you denied services to and tell them that they had a right to things that you didn’t want to give them. Give them 20% more than they were legally entitled to.

Walk into the school board meeting and tell them that you lied about that child to get them out of that class, and send a written apology to the family. Give that child extra help that they didn’t have before you lied.

Call Child Protective Services, tell them what you did, tell them that you are at the end of your rope and demand help.

When the family in your church is ready to tell everyone about their child's diagnosis, stand in the pulpit and preach Matthew 25 to the flock that God has entrusted to you. Apologize to them failing them in letting them ignore the disabled family in their community. Congratulate them on the chance they have to serve God directly and DARE them to out do each other in serving that family. Challenge the teachers in your congregation to offer them educational services, the lawyers to give them free advocacy, the wealthy to pay for their child's treatment, the patient mothers to give respite care, the neat freaks to clean their house, those with culinary talents to deliver GFCF/SCD meals to them, the woman with the green thumb to cultivate their gardens, the book worm to research treatments for them, and on and on and on... Create competition to serve that child. Don't stop until the families tell you that they don't want any more help. Show up at their house every week, put your hands on that family and pray for them. Bring that church into God's Economy.

Hold a press conference and give the media and the medical community the information that you have been withholding on the environmental causes and possible treatments of autism. No matter the fall out. Announce your plan to properly investigate those avenues, and then raise that budget by 20%.

Walk into a police station, tell them what you have done to disabled children, and tell them you don’t want to do it any more. Tell them who your victims are and demand that they get help.

If you can't find the person that you have wronged to pay it back, repent to God by paying it forward. Find someone like them and give to them what you owe to the person you have wronged.

Repent. Do it no matter how big or how small the offense. Do it no matter how long ago the offense. Do it no matter what it costs you.

And repentance WILL cost you. It is hard. Confession of sin does not free us from the consequences of sin in this world. Often it sets them into high gear.

But true repentance to Christ always results in forgiveness. As a matter of fact repentance and forgiveness are inseparable in God’s economy. They are two sides of the same coin, and you will never find one with out the other.

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

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