April 30, 2007

Autism in God’s Economy: The Least of These

Autism Awareness month 2007 has been one like we have never seen before. It has seen Oprah do a show on Autism, for the first time after decades on the air. It has seen the CDC announce that Autism now affects 1 in 150 in this country. It has seen controversial Senate hearings to decide where the hundreds of millions of CAA money will go. It has seen a prominent autistic come out of the closet. Finally, and most heartbreaking, it has seen the worst shooting in US history perpetrated by Cho Seung-Hui who was reportedly autistic but never received the help he needed to live in a neurotypical world; and the irony of trying to cover up his autism during Autism Awareness month.

Because so much is at stake, the autism discussion and debate grows louder and more fevered, often making it difficult for those involved to really take in various perspectives. Even when we do, they are all still flawed human perspectives. Even the best, brightest, wisest and most experienced of us do not have the whole story.

But God does.

So in “Autism in God’s Economy” over the next six days I will discuss a few things that the Bible tells us about God’s perspective on those with Autism and on the rest of us. This series is predicated on the deity of Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture, which may be controversial ideas to some of my regular visitors. If they are to you, I invite you to read on none the less, and take a look at what God of the Bible says. If you are a professing Christian, then this is an important series for you to read no matter how autism affects you.

The Least of These

God’s economy turns the world’s economy upside down. Jesus brought with Him the radical message that the last shall be first, the meek shall inherit the earth and the poor will get the Kingdom of Heaven. We tend to hear these verses and think of them as nice thoughts, but Jesus did not intend them to be taken so lightly. He intended them as a window into His mind and a look into the future. And to prove it, he lived it out.

Jesus was God. He was the very same God that created the world and all of us that roam it. Everything belongs to Him. Yet when He put on a mortal body and came to walk in His creation, He didn’t come as a king, but a servant. He owned no property but the cloths He wore, He held no office, and He did not show up and order the governments to start doing His bidding. He had the right to all of it, but He laid claim to none of it.

Instead He chose lowly fishermen as his friends, socialized with social outcasts, spent His time touching lepers, gave relief to demon possessed psychotics and cleared out hospitals.

He did not ‘climb the ladder of success’. He lived a life that was oriented toward the broken and excoriated those in power who would not do their duty to serve them.

In God’s economy, the weak, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the overlooked, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the sick, the oppressed, the grieving, the bullied, the exhausted, and those at the end of their rope are the ones who get into the VIP section. They are the ones who gain the attention and compassion of the God of the Universe.

If you have any doubt of this, and even if you don’t, read Matthew 25:31-46. It is one of the most important passages of scripture that any of us in the Autism community will ever read, and now that 1 in 150 are being diagnosed with it, almost all of us are in the Autism community.

Take a moment to read it.

It tells us that what we do in the lives of “The Least of These”, we do to Jesus Christ Himself.

If those of us who claim to be Christians want to know if we really are, and be clear, just saying you are a Christian don’t make it so, then examine what you have done in the lives of the most vulnerable people in your world.

In God’s economy, they are to be our highest priority. He has chosen them to represent Him for the purposes of His judgment in this world.

Matthew 25 is not an empty metaphor, it is one of the very difficult truths that our destiny hinges on, and it was the last thing that Jesus stressed before He started His walk to the cross.

If you know anything about autism and you are not of the belief that those with autism who cannot advocate well for themselves are among The Least of These in this society, then pay closer attention.

Tommorrow: Those With Autism