Yesterday, on the bus I read in the Metro that a man had died while doing a charity trek in Greenland, a few weeks earlier I read a similar story of a woman who died during a Channel swim, in both cases who can't help but feel sympathetic that two people have died while trying to raise money for charity?
But, at the same time, these stories helped confirm an idea that has been rolling around my head for a while now. The way giving happens in the Western world is a graceless affair and is instead based on personal work.
We've all been at the end of a friend's sponsorship request. They are going to do something particularly hard (or stupid) and in return we give them money that will go to charity. The end result of this is good - money going to charity. But the method is really strange if given a moment's thought.
Let's imagine for a moment that someone was to write an honest sponsorship blurb:
The first time I read the statement above I must admit that I reacted against it. The guy who wrote is Francis Chan, one of those hippy Christians who is pretty bonkers but nevertheless can write what turns out to be frustrating biblical stuff. By which I mean that I want to disagree with it because Mr Chan is a little weird and I don’t like his writing style but he backs it up with the Bible and I can’t really argue with that. The book in question is called Crazy Love and it’s in part great and in part not so.
One of the most challenging chapters in the whole book is when Mr Chan goes through various signs of true Christianity and one of those signs is giving to the poor and to the work of God. When I read this sign then my conscience troubled me for while I was telling myself “Oh, I’ll give to God when I have a job” I realized that I had to give when I had little otherwise I would never give when (if) I had more. As Jesus says:
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12 v 33 – 34