Charity Starts at Home?
The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome. It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me. It not! Scripture that is!
Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country? What are you talking about?
I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”. Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.
So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.
In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe. People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.
Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help. I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.
The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.
So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever, I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.
Edited Gena Areola
Help me why is it so?
Talking to my friends in the USA who know these things, and also to people in the UK parliament they tell me that the rudest letters, the most vitriolic complaints almost always come from those who say they are Christians. Why is that so?
Talking with a Christian Journalist friend, he tells me that the worst letters of complaint the most condemning and nastiest come to him from Christian readers, why is that so?
I know that when people find their way to Jesus, they are often not nice people, usually they know that and that is why they come to Christ for help, for change, for a new right life. I have often had people say to me you need to love me as I am God does, my often thought with such people is, that’s very hard because you are horrible, you are just not nice.
I do know that God loves us as we are, there would be no hope, or grace if He did not as a Muslim friend once said to me, if God does not show us Grace there is no hope for any of us. However it is very clear that the plan for those who follow Jesus is that we should not remain as we are ‘Horrible’ if you will, but the plan is to change us, make us more and more like Jesus. So his values become our values.
I constantly find that people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not seem to haves the values of Jesus and although they claim to be following him their actions really give me a problem. Yet I find some who make no claim to be a follower of Jesus, having values, actions, grace and concern for others in a Christ like way. They may even call themselves atheists or people without faith.
Even Paul had those who were Asiarchs in Ephesus who did not share the ‘Jesus-bit’ but were ardent defenders of him even when their own future status and comforts were greatly under threat.
A friend of mine said ‘The tension comes when we view evangelicals as ‘brothers and sisters’. I don’t think my discernment is simply cultural – I think I discern it in the Spirit. But working together with a number of them is all-but impossible, or, there is a small uncomfortable area where we can work together. Then, with those who are not believers, I do not discern that bond, but find where they share the values of Jesus we can go a long way forward.’
Let me tell you a personal story, I was part of a church group, working with them I bought a house they provided the deposit however from then on I paid all cost mortgage, repairs everything. Then they fell out with me; silly me had put the whole property in the name of the group, it seemed spiritual at the time!
It did not seem so good when they issued an order ejecting me from the property, a life on the streets with wife and three young children did not seem a good idea. Fortunately God was there and I was able to buy back the property I had paid for, at a very inflated cost, my ‘brothers and sisters in Christ making a goodly profit out of my distress.
So reason for this story, well at the same time as all this happened I had entered into a seven year contract to rent a shop, we were about three years in. I read the contract carefully, should have done that when I signed it. I realised that I had signed away a lot and given the landlord great power over me. What to do,
I went to see them, one Muslim one Hindu owing the shop. I showed them my contract saying I realise you have lots of power to take me for everything. They both read it carefully, yes they said we have defiantly got you, however we are also in business, so we think we should be kind to you, you are released, and they ripped up the contract. I was happy but disappointed too; I was puzzle as to who was Christ like, who really were my brothers and sisters, who had the Jesus value.
So now can you help me understand? Maybe C.S. Lewis had it right in his last battle.
Emeth, one of Rishda’s men and a devout follower of Tash, insists on seeing his god. Rishda tries to dissuade him, but Emeth enters the stable, and the dead body of another soldier, who was stationed in the stable to murder the rebellious Narnians, is thrown out instead. Aslan invites him into His world, Emeth says he cannot come as he has never severed Aslan, always Tash, Aslan say all you did was for me even though you thought you were serving Tash.
My Place in the Sun
A lot of people have taken me to task because I have suggested that the E.U. referendum in the UK was very xenophobic. I do happen to think that in all areas both sides of the argument exaggerated and said things that were not true, but if you think sovereignty (whatever that is) economics, democracy or any of the other things swung it in favour of exit I am not sure where you have been. What swung it was we want to stop immigration. As I said before not all people who vote exit are racist, but all racists will vote exit. Sure some will have thought about the other arguments, though how anyone could cut through the noise to any factual knowledge I don’t know.
I said from day one, people will make their decision on this campaign emotionally. That’s how people make decisions; perhaps they shouldn’t but realistically that what people do. So what swung the vote were nasty racist posters, and we must control our borders. We need to stop people coming into the UK. It’s putting pressure on schools and housing. I wonder why no one ever asks how much pressure divorce puts on housing. How can we possible think or say that a lot of this rhetoric, posters and advertising were not xenophobic? I wish someone could explain that it was not a xenophobic campaign to my non UK friends, who work hard pay taxes, and were not allowed to vote but are quite afraid now; maybe sharing the fear of the two million plus UK citizens who live in other EU countries.
It seems perhaps surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be that London, which has the highest number of immigrants, and my area very, very many yet we voted to stay in. May be we understand the benefit of immigration. What is also surprising, but probably should not surprise me is how many of my non birth UK citizens voted out. Kenyans, West Indians, Sri Lankans, Bulgarians, who have UK passports, friends of mine, but voted out. It’s that yes I have my place in the Sun I have the sun bed and my towel is on it, say don’t you come in and touch it.
Let me tell you some stories which explain why I should not be surprised. Some years back I remember being in Switzerland, I was there with refugees who years before had come to the country escaping war, and lived in really hard conditions. But as is often with hard working, innovative, creative refugees they have done well. I’m glad, nice houses, nice cars, prosperous. I was aware that there were new wars at the time and new refugees coming into the country, so I asked my friends “how is the country coping with the new influx of refugees”. Their response; ‘Our country needs to do something to stop these people coming in’!
Story two, when we started helping refugees and asylum seekers in the UK we were advised to take some advice from an expert who was running a large half way house for people, not refugees but people with problems, we met the said gentleman, he was obviously from Asia and his turban sort of gave him away as not being of original English decent. His advice was most helpful, but then he asked what are you doing, my wife explained that we were setting up homes to help refugees and asylum seekers, his response to that was ‘we don’t want those people in our country’ my wife glanced up at the turban without saying anything, he obviously read her thoughts, and responded with ‘oh that, me I’m English’.
Story three, another friend of mine was running a youth club, arrived one day and asked the main worker where are all the young people today, they are not in the club, don’t know was the answer, looking out of the window he notice a whole load of young people kicking a football around, Oh he said I see lots outside, oh no came the reply they are not young people they are Polish.
I have all along during this campaign for in or out of the EU felt that the end decision was going to be made selfishly, we never once really asked will it hurt other Europeans, is it best for them if we leave, what do the immigrants hear in the UK feel about the anti foreigner rhetoric even the economic argument was always the selfish one.
Now, again not surprised, is to hear the Christians saying Gods will has been done, really? Why do people always think Gods will has been done, what a funny idea, why does Jesus tell us to pray that God will, should be done, if it always is? I am sure that often what happens is not God will at all. So we may say as the Muslims do Inshalla or as Christians say D.V Deo volente, “God willing”. God may be willing but that does not mean His will has been done.
Well now going back to that Brexit, was it what God wants. I don’t know. Personally to be non selfish, with all the wrong of the EU I felt it was better to stay in for lots of other peoples benefit, influence, the protections that the UK gave in negotiations to smaller countries. I listened to others in Europe who worried that if the UK left it would hurt them, I did not want that to happen. Am I sorry that I have said it was so badly racist influenced, no and sadly the post exit decision seems to have raised a terrible dragon of permission to be racist; with people shouting in the street go home, to various non UK people; Sad.
So was God will done, I don’t think so, but I am not sad about that because I know God well enough to know he takes all situations to make himself known, and for those who love him He makes all things work together for Good. So I am happy.
I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall. It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as, as I write walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.
Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche, and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation. In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls, or building of walls there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.
I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep our others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall. In a sense a great symbol of failure,as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out. What it cannot do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.
So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean. Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin, and thus loosing it key workers and intelligencer; So really a failure of an ideological way of thinking. Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, surly that must represent the failureof the Romans to control the Scottish Nation, or to conquer it so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.
The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure the world continues to build them, demonstrating to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right, so between 1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure. In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence at the moment, but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall! Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco even in Northern Ireland ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on. There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco. Shall I go on? These are just a selection of the world’s walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq.
And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls offailure in Bulgaria, in Greece, certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory, to keep out those from the so called Calais Jungle. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure, but it seems not.
It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point. I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build failure walls because we perceive people as our enemies, the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies. Walls don’t work.
You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
I heard someone telling a story recently about how they were working in fish conservation and checking on clean water in rivers and streams in the UK. Apparently they found an area of a stream where the fish were struggling for oxygen and dying. Workers then take out any dead fish and then it’s apparently possible to push oxygen into the water, often the water agencies do this by, as the Environment Agency says, pouring Hydrogen Peroxide into the water upstream. This releases extra Oxygen into the water. Such action appears to somewhat reduced the potential fish kill.
I don’t usually write anything about Politics, but the recent elections at which I did vote, seem to me to be setting a trend that require lots of us who, maybe think differently, to say something.
An Iraqi friend of mine recently said to me, maybe there is a problem with democracy in that stupid people get to vote; perhaps we should have an exam before people are given the franchise?
Recently listening to the debate in a ladies’ hairdressers, waiting for my wife, who had just commented on the problems for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I was staggered to discover from about 10 plus people there, she was the only one who knew that girls had been kidnapped. They moved on in conversation to various other world shattering events, but it seemed to me that my wife was the only one who had a TV that showed any news programmes. The world affairs, local and national politics seemed at such a low level of interest to them I wanted to scream argh…
It isn’t that this stuff isn’t out there it is, but as most of the main three political parties are saying the message has not got through, perhaps that is because they shy away from the real facts to try and be popular to those who don’t listen to them anyway.
Negative – Lukewarm – Self Obsessed
I don’t like to be negative but it is my imagination that in the UK there are lots of people who are living in a small bubble.
Isn’t it great to be with passionate people? People who have vision, enthusiasm, Mission, concern for the big things? Such people are attractive to be around, they draw like magnets they are not boring they are challenging, inspiring, and usually ‘life full’ and often fulfilled people. None of that is negative is it?
Yet around me I see lots of the alternative. Conversation, both in person and of FB is of the small talk kind. Latest dress, shoes, entertainment; usually fairly inconsequential, never going to change the world much less the small space where they dwell. Often the pressure of life is the things that affect them personally, the things that they believe will bring them happiness. Joy would not be something understood here. Sadly the things they want are usually the ‘me’ kind I guess that is the spirit of the age ‘you are number one’!
Nutty Newspaper Nonsense
I reached the ultimate in surprise this week when I was asked if I knew that black people are able to receive a free oyster (bus and tube pass) if they live in London. Come on all my black friends if you did not know this – get one – problem is I do not know where from.
The young lady who was telling me this story went on to tell me that the person who had told her this great piece of news, when told, “No, that is not true”, looked at her with that knowing look that says “Oh, that’s what you think”.
It really is nutty nonsense from people who read certain types of newspapers that come out with this stuff, and then when you tell them no it’s not true, prefer to believe their fairy tale rubbish rather than any real facts.
Some of the other apocryphal stories I have been told are as follows, usually by wide eyed people who when, like my friend who told me the story of free travel, are told “no, it’s nonsense”, look at you as though you are the stupid one. Here are just some of them. ‘Did you know that they now give foreigner’s free cars’ ‘It’s terrible that you can only get a house on the council if you are not English’ ‘Did you know that immigrants get £120.00 per week unemployment allowances’ and so on, I have heard lots more, I must admit that I had not heard the one about black people getting free travel until this weekend. Nutty stuff or what?