Making Unemployment Work, part 3
At the end of 2020 we face a world of ongoing pressure and uncertainty. Covid-19 has affected the wealthiest nations first, but it may leave its scars longer in the poorer nations (and the poorer communities of our own nations). Collapse of businesses leads to serious loss of employment and that in turn leads to serious financial hardship for many. The people of God must be ready to act!
As the Apostle Paul travelled the Mediterranean he was painfully aware of the believers back in Jerusalem facing extreme hardship because of famine. As Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth he pleaded with them to give all that they could to help meet the physical needs of sisters and brothers in Jerusalm. These are some of the principles coming our of 2 Corinthiand 8 & 9:
- Give yourself to Christ first then give to the community;
- Christ was rich and gave himself up for us;
- Willingness to give is enough to make any gift acceptable no matter what size - it’s a heart thing!
- Christians should by nature (in Christ) have a heart of empathy for the needs of others;
- As we give “from the heart” we should expect to receive blessings in the heart;
- God will always provide us with enough to be generous;
- Generosity amazingly invites us participate in the Lord’s generosity to those he loves and his care for creation.
A distinguishing characteristic of the early church was the determination to use wealth directly for the benefit and blessing of others.
By contrast we live in societies dominated by self-interest: what's mine is mine, I've got it because I'm worth it, and more is always better! Even the annual advertisers call to Christmas consumerism ands up appealing to us to buy the best gifts for ourselves.
How can we buck the trend? How can we free ourselves from the clutches of self-wealth idolatry? Can we be ready to act responsively and responsibly towards those around us experiencing genuine hardship? Can we lift our heads above the ritual of excesses of self indulgence to see those in need around us? Can we be ready, as the body of Christ, to practise practical justice within our congregations and communities as an expression of Christ’s love to a watching world?
- In my local supermarket, as you enter there is a poster from the local church offering for anyone in need: a free meal for the family, a box of craft activities for the children and prayer for anyone who asks.
- There's an outstanding Gospel initiative, Christians Against Poverty, which provides free debt counselling and skills training for re-employment, introducing many to the love of Christ in the practical care of the church - here are some online resources.
- What individual steps can we take - find out what is being done locally to help others. Pray about what you can give (time, money etc). See if there are others in your congregation who also want to help people in practical ways. Do not do nothing. Make yourself available.
- And of course we need to examine our lifestyles and review our spending habits...are there thing you can live without for a while in order to facilitate more generosity?
As I write, I have the preacher’s curse - one finger pointing to the audience but three fingers pointing back at me. Friends I have not got this right but I know the Lord is teaching us all the time. My prayer for you and for me this Christmas 2020 is that your heart is open to hear his voice, and that your desire is not left like an unopened Christmas present, un-acted upon.
Finally, if you find yourself, or others close to you, in trouble this year please let us know. We can and will pray with you for the Lord’s mercy and provision. And can I commend to you the recent video we did on fragility with input from Pablo Martinez and David Wu and myself… here’s the link
Have a generous Christmas!
Tim and the team