This week has been Christian Aid week and as a community we have tried to do our bit to help raise both money for and awareness of the charity. On Tuesday we spent an hour standing outside of the market hall collecting money and whilst we were there had some good and encouraging conversations with people as they stopped to donate.
Over the past week, as I’ve been reflecting on what this week can mean for us as Christians in the West, and in particular I’ve been focussing my thoughts on last Sunday’s Gospel reading;
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. John 15:9-17
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
This is a big commandment, and not always an easy one to uphold. As humans we don’t always see eye to eye or get a long with everyone, personalities clash and people hurt one another and fall out, but we are still called to love. We are called to love everyone. Our friends, family, work colleagues, everyone.
Christian aid is an organisation which aims to love and help all they can. They ‘insist the world can and must be swiftly changed to one where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.’ They exist to extend love to those who are less fortunate than us here in the West, and to offer any support they can.
It can be easy, and I’m guilty of this, to turn a blind eye to those in developing countires or to people who are suffering to provide basic, essential needs (such as food and clean water) to their families. We can easily turn off the news, or disguard what we hear and think that, although it’s a sad situation, there is nothing we can do and someone else will help them. The truth is, we can help – but often we don’t want to believe that. It’s a lot more comfortable and safe to bury our heads in the sand.
It’s not just with situations outside of our country, or contenant we can be quick to turn a blind eye to. I wonder if today you have walked past a homeless person, maybe someone selling the Big Issue, and you didn’t notice them or, if you did, failed to acknowledge them. It can become second nature at times to be so inward looking that we walk straight past those who need our help. It can be very easy to think big charities such as Christian Aid, CAP and many others will help those in need and we don’t need to do anything.
We’re getting it wrong. We can and need to help… but how? I want to suggest three things we can all do.
Firstly we can pray. Jesus says to us; “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). Prayer is powerful and sometimes we can’t physically do anything to help others but we can always pray for them and ask for God to move in that particular situation. Prayer is a gamechanger – let’s use it.
Secondly, we could donate finacially and/or travel to a developing country and work there for a period of time. There are many organisations you can go on mission trips with to help others. When I was 19 I went on a mission trip to Kosovo and it was one of the best expriences of my life. I was able to make a difference to people’s lives and see how the money I had given and the work I was doing was going to benefit them for years to come. If you feel the call to go abroad on mission I strongly recommend it.
Thirdly, we can extend love to those closer to home. Jesus tells us to love everyone – that includes those who we don’t like. As I’ve already said, it isn’t easy to love those we don’t like but we’re called to do it. So when you next see someone who you struggle to get along with suffering or in need, and you’re able to help them – do. God has provided so many blessings for you, share them with other people. By extending that arm of love and helping those who you would normally avoid or just make polite chit-chat with at work – you’re being Christ in those situations and a true witness.
No one will ever get it right all the time but we can change the world and make a difference by helping when we give opportunity. God provides us with all we need so we can love, help and share His Gospel with others. Let’s go and do it.