joining the dots

I'm sorry, I haven't blogged for a long time. I hope to start again very soon, but until then, enjoy the archives!

Poverty, the image of God and the most dangerous button on earth

Image from www.sxc.hu, Slawomir Rodak (rondelious)

Image from http://www.sxc.hu, Slawomir Rodak (rondelious)

There’s a button on planet earth that is perhaps more dangerous than any other.

And it’s not the red button that lives in a briefcase close to President Obama that launches America’s nuclear weapons. No.

I’d like to propose that the most dangerous button on earth is one that many of us encounter every day. It’s one that is lurking in most of our homes. It is the humble snooze button that can be found on most alarm clocks.

It doesn’t look particularly scary, but if someone presses the snooze button just once every other day, they lose 24 hours each year. Just think what could be achieved in those 24 hours?!

But it’s not the literal snooze button which is so dangerous, but rather the metaphorical one. We decide to do something, but then we hit the snooze button, we put it off, and often never get round to doing it. We decide we will start watching less television, but we hit the snooze button. We say we’ll do something about our carbon footprint, but we hit the snooze button. We say we will start spending more time reading our Bible, but we hit the snooze button. We say we’ll spend more quality time with our spouse or children, but we hit the snooze button. We say we will go on that diet or start doing more exercise, but we hit the snooze button. We say we will change our spending habits, but we hit the snooze button. We say we’ll take action on that issue, or repair that relationship, or give money to the church or a charity, but we hit the snooze button. The snooze button is dangerous.

You may have heard about ‘donor fatigue’, the idea that in the past when people saw images of starving children on TV they would give money, but now, the images have become so common, they don’t motivate people to give anymore. In addition to this, perhaps people do decide they ought to give, but they hit the snooze button. They think, “I must do that, but I’ll do it later.” They have good intentions, but they delay, and the good intention doesn’t result in good action.

I’d suggest that a similar issue exists amongst Christians. Many of us have heard quite a few talks about God’s heart for the poor, and how we should be taking action. The problem is we’ve heard the words so many time, they’ve stopped making much of an impact. Or perhaps, we hear the words and decide that we must do something, but we then hit the snooze button, and never get round to doing anything.

We need to wake up!

The snooze button is dangerous!

However, before we will change the way we act, we need to change the way we think. What we think on the inside, will effect what we do on the outside.

In the opening chapter of the Bible we discover that we are made in the image of God. This suggests, in part, that we’re meant to be like God. So what is God like?

Imagine for a moment you’re planning a party. That party will have your image, your fingerprints, all over it – the music, the food, the people there, the decorations and the theme will all be an expression of you and your tastes and your preferences.

The Bible doesn’t give us an example of God organising a party as such, however, God does establish a nation – the nation of Israel, and his image, his fingerprints, are all over it!

The book of Deuteronomy contains a blueprint of this nation, and it’s clear that a key feature is that the people of this nation should care for the poor, the fatherless, the widows and the immigrants. Take for example Deuteronomy 15:7-8, “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be heart-hearted or tight-fisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.”  Take a look at Deuteronomy for yourselves – these two verses are not a one off occurrence!

We’re meant to be like God, we’re made in his image. What’s important to God should be important to us. Our lives should reflect the image of God.

However, the image of God idea goes deeper than that. We must remember that it’s not just us who are made in the image of God, but everyone, and that obviously includes the poor. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus explains that whenever we help those in need, it’s as if we are helping him. In their need we are to think of people as Jesus, and if we don’t help Jesus, who will we help?

We need to change not only how we think about ourselves, but also how we think about other people. We should have the desire to help those in need because God does, and we are made in his image. It should be a priority for us, because it’s a priority to God. We should be motivated to help those in need because they too are made in the image of God. To ignore them, is to ignore Jesus.

Standard snooze buttons are set to give you an extra nine minutes of snoozing. A lot can happen in nine minutes.

81 people, who are made in God’s image, will be infected with HIV/AIDS.

9 women, who are made in God’s image, will be raped in the Congo.

162 people, who are made in God’s image, will die of starvation.

And there will be an additional 612 of God’s image-bearers living in poverty.

If we hit the literal snooze button we’ll enjoy another nine minutes in bed. But, more significantly, if we keep hitting the metaphorical snooze button when it comes to issues concerning the world’s poorest people, these statistics will only get more depressing.

So, what are you going to do to reflect the image of God within you? Whatever you do, don’t hit the snooze button one more time.

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About Phil Green

By day I work for the Evangelical Alliance, by night I lead a small charity called a little bit of HOPE.

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This entry was posted on 22/07/2012 by in rhythm and tagged , , , .

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The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the views of the organisations I work with.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Phil Green
a little bit of hope
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