Yesterday I was watching an episode of ‘the middle’. The mum of the family had gone shopping, purely to get a container of the nicest cooked chicken ever. When she went to pay for it she realised she didn’t have her purse. The man in the queue behind her offered to pay for it, she tried to get his address to be able to pay it back, but he said “don’t worry about it, just promise me you’ll pay it forward” by this he meant, do something similar for someone else. The mum of the family did what she always does and used this as an opportunity to ‘better’ her family. So she made all the family ‘pay it forward’ to another member of the family, they picked names out of the hat, and then announced the name. Some of the things turned out really well, but there were, inevitably some disasters.
Why do we do nice things for people? Is it because we’ve been told to? Is it because we’re hoping to get something back? Is it because it makes us feel better? In ‘friends’ (yes I do watch a lot of tv), there is an episode where Joey tells Phoebe that there is no such thing as a selfless act. She refuses to believe him. But as she tries to prove him wrong she understands more and more that maybe, he was right. Afterall why do pupils pay £1 to wear non-uniform? Is it to benefit the charity they are supporting? Or is it to be able to wear their own clothes? The question really is… Does it matter?
The theme this week is ‘love every neighbour’ and the thought comes from John Bunyan who says…
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you
This week is Christian Aid week. The aim of Christian Aid is to eliminate poverty. They do a variety of work, including emergency aid when disasters strike. But two of their main things are: to work alongside communities in poverty, and to expose poverty and to challenge and change systems that favour the rich.
They work alongside communities, not to take over, but to support and educate them in order to be support themselves and to take themselves out of poverty and build up their own communities. It’s very easy, when you see someone struggling, yo just take over and do the job for them. But does that actually help them? What happens in the future when they get stuck again? Christian aid aims to help people develop their own communities, so that Christian Aid are no longer needed.
They also expose poverty, and try to challenge and change systems that favour the rich. Essentially they recognise that unless they tackle the root of the problem, the problem will never go away. The people of Christian aid would be much happier if there was no need for their charity! They run advertising campaigns to show what atrocities there are in the world, they lobby governments in order to change and eradicate the root causes.
Why do they do this? Because they are following Jesus’ command “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself”. Their love for God, makes them want to love their neighbour. Not just their friends, or people on their street but everyone. There is no discrimination in who they help, they do not have to be Christian communities, and the do not try to convert them to Christianity. They recognise that Jesus helped those who were rejected by others, and they want to do the same. Jesus tried to tackle root problems, and they are trying to do the same.
These things take time, and the people of Christian aid may never see the full eradication of poverty, or even the full result of their work in communities. But they are demonstrating their love for every neighbour and are not expecting anything back from those communities at all.
Christianity is not about following rules, it’s not about saying words, it’s about accepting the love of God, and showing that love to others. Not because you’ve been told to, not to get a reward, but because you want to.
Challenge: visit the Christian Aid Website. Find out more about what they do, and see if there is something you want to get involved with. That may be raising money, it may be raising awareness of the issues.
Prayer: Father a God, we thank you that you love us, and that we are able to be in relationship with you. We thank you for the work of Christian aid, not only physically helping people, but tackling root causes. We pray that you may light on ur hearts to want to show your love to those in need, both in theories but also in our own communities. Amen.