Join us for Eastminster’s 40acts Challenge to live generously for the next 40 days! Learn more.
Wanting to help is one thing; being equipped to do so is another.
Today you’re going to go out all set-up to offer an act of generosity. So, before you leave the house, fill your bag with every conceivable item that will fit. Think of packets of tissues, a phone charger, vouchers for food and drink. Be imaginative. Be kind. Be on your way.
GREEN: Before leaving the house, spend five minutes collecting things that might be useful to give to others today.
AMBER: As you’re out and about, pop into a coffee shop and offer to pay for the next person’s drink. It’s a small act which could impact somebody’s day. Some cafes offer a scheme where you can buy a drink for someone who may not be able to afford one.
RED: Approach a homeless shelter or charity and ask what donations they are looking for. Encourage your family, friends or house-group to help meet their needs.
‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’Galatians 6:9 NIV
The Gospels are peppered by encounters with those who experience exclusion: the man healed at the pool of Bethesda, dependent on others to access the healing waters; the woman who had spent her savings on trying to cure a long-term health condition; a woman caught in adultery whose opposite was not held to account. I’m sure you can think of other stories that resonate with you, too. At times, rather than being seen in their uniqueness, each person may instead have been seen as a problem.
In the years I spent working with homeless people, there was a temptation to see the problem rather than the person. In reality, regardless of our presenting needs, all of us are a mixed bag. We are a blend of skills, flaws, blessings and challenges. Perhaps there’s a reductive tendency in all of us, when confronted with difference in others. It’s a response I’d name as ‘Fix or Distance’.
When we see the problem rather than the person, our response might be ‘Fix’ (e.g. this needs sorting; I can do this to solve the problem) or ‘Distance’ (e.g. this is too much; this is something I’ve never encountered before; run away!). We might find ourselves responding with ‘Fix or Distance’ towards those whose choices or behaviour we don’t understand. This is a natural response when encountering difference and complexity, but Jesus offers a better model.
Jesus models something more than ‘Fix or Distance’ by seeing the whole person. He moves beyond the presenting issue by offering a way back in for each one. These examples show healing and restoration, yet each results in a chance to move back into community, having experienced exclusion from it. What might it look like for us to be communities which move beyond ‘Fix or Distance’ to see the whole person?
Corin Pilling leads Livability’s work with churches. Focusing on disability, dementia and mental health, the team are passionate in helping each church become an inclusive community.
Corin has been a long-term member of All Saints, an estate-based Anglican church in King’s Cross, whose diverse congregation have transformed his life through their friendship.
twitter: @corinpilling @livabilityuk