We have been considering what it means to live the Gospel in different contexts. Last week we talked about living the Gospel in the context of the church. We will resume that discussion this week, but before we return to the Scriptures, Timothy Keller tells a wonderful story about life on the island of Martha’s Vineyard that presents a picture of what living the Gospel in the church might look like. He writes:
“In the 1980’s Nora Ellen Croce, Yale Professor was researching hereditary deafness on Martha’s Vineyard. In the seventeenth century the original European settlers were all from a region in Kent, England, called the ‘Weald’ where there was a high incidence of hereditary deafness. Because of their geographical isolation and intermarriage the percentage of deaf people increased across the whole island. By the nineteenth century one out of twenty-five people in the town of Chilmark was deaf and in another small settlement almost a quarter of the people could not hear.
“In most societies, physically handicapped people are forced to adapt to the life patterns of the nonhandicapped, but that is not what happened on the Vineyard. One day Croce was interviewing an older island resident and she asked him what the hearing people thought of the deaf people. ‘We didn’t think anything about them, they were just like everyone else,’ he replied. Croce responded that it must have been necessary for everyone to write things down on paper in order to communicate with them. The man responded in surprise, ‘No, you see everyone here spoke sign language.’ The interviewer asked if he meant the deaf people’s families. No, he answered, ‘Everybody in town – I used to speak it, my mother did, everybody.’ Another interviewee said, ‘Those people weren’t handicapped. They were just deaf.’ One other remembered, ‘They [the deaf] were like anybody else. I wouldn’t be overly kind because they, they’d be sensitive to that. I’d treat then the way I treated anybody.’
“Indeed what happened was that an entire community had disadvantaged itself en masse for the sake of a minority. Instead of making the non-hearing minority learn to read lips, the whole majority learned signing. All the hearing became bilingual, so deaf people were able to enter into full social participation.”
What do you think? Is there a principle here for living the Gospel in the context of the church?
This week we will continue to think about what it means to live the Gospel in the church.
Pray: Before you begin your meditation this week, take a few minutes and review Philippians 2:1-11 and let that shape your prayer as you look into God’s Word.
Meditate: We will pick up our study with where we left off our discussion last week (So you may have some of the work already finished!). How do we live out the Gospel in our relationships at The Bridge Church at Bear Creek (TBCBC) in practical terms?