Special Friends Devotional | Day 1

This morning we start a new devotional in conjunction with our Special Friends ministry. In case you're not aware, this amazing ministry seeks to help every person with intellectual disabilities belong at Willow Creek. And to fully belong at Willow means connecting with a Christ-centered community; learning and growing spiritually; and using your gifts to serve others. You can learn more about this ministry from the lobby displays and their special performance at the weekend services on July 21/22.

So, let's immerse ourselves in passages of Scripture that remind us of God's expansive, all-inclusive, compassionate love. Each day also includes a short activity you can do with your family or friends each day! 
 


 

In the Image of God


Read Genesis 1:26–31 
 
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
 
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
 
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
 
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
 
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
 
Reflect
 
Made in the image of God. You are. We are. The person next to you is. The person you don’t think could be is. We all are, each and every one. We don’t treat each other that way, do we? Even if not intentionally, we tend to make value judgments about people based on their looks or intelligence or ability. And the people we often judge most swiftly are those with disabilities. In fact, our current culture can be dismissive, condescending, and even flat-out unkind and discriminatory toward those with intellectual or physical disabilities. We see something on the outside that we aren’t used to—maybe it’s a wheelchair or a certain body posture or a way of communicating—and we draw conclusions about worth and value. But what if we allowed the truth that each person bears God’s image to drive our conclusions instead? How might that impact the way we think about and treat those with disabilities?

 

  • What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “physical disability”? What about when you hear “intellectual disability”? What do those thoughts reflect about the value judgments (positive or negative) you make about people with disabilities?   
     
  • Who do you know that has a disability of some kind? What have you noticed first about that person? How might you begin to see the image of God in them first? 
     
  • What is God’s invitation to you in today’s passage?

Respond

God, thank You for making me in Your image and filling me with Your Spirit. Give me eyes to see every person—and particularly those with disabilities—with Your eyes of love, compassion, and mercy. Help me to look for and recognize Your image in those I tend to overlook or even devalue. And open my heart to the goodness, uniqueness, and gifts that each person brings into this world. Amen.
 
Family Activity
 
Have each family member share a positive quality or characteristic about themselves that other people wouldn’t necessarily notice upon first meeting them. 
 

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