Monday, 20 January 2014

A tinted view

There are some news stories that really make me wonder what we are about in this country.

Stories like that of Edwina Currie questioning if food banks were really needed in Britain, just reinforce the issues raised late last year by other politicians questioning food  banks and their supposed agenda. Then there is the issue of benefits claim reform and of course the building up of fear of the possible influx of European union nationals as more countries have joined and now take advantage of migration opportunities. Before anyone thinks this is a comment on the current government, we have also to ask why we are in the economic mess we are in, since that has created many of the problems and fears? Politicians often look through tinted windows seeing only what they want to see.

Possible those giving out their opinions and those converting them to print or news bytes, might benefit from getting a ground level view. It seems to me that being detached from the real folks, those that struggle, those that can't make ends meet, those that have been caught up in the pay day loans cycle of debt, those who can't find a job that enables them to support themselves and their families, gives a view through a tinted window.

Its all too simple to focus on the negative, those who abuse benefits, those who abuse the hospitality of another country, those who use food banks but have the funds for tattoos and pet food. All too simple to miss the point that many more in our country do rely on food banks (as many in Harlow do), can't find jobs with adequate pay, struggle when benefits claims changes remove all payments during reassessment and many migrant workers positively contribute to the economy of this land. The windows being looked through are tinted.

What's all this  got to do with faith in Jesus? Well quite a lot, in my view. The other day I conducted a funeral and after meeting the family of the person selected this passage to read ...

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

I got to thinking again about what this means as a follower of Jesus. We are called to wipe the tints off of the windows we look through and regardless of our politics, regardless of our economic situation, recognise that many do need help, support, comfort and compassion and that we might well be able to help to give it. Food banks and Credit Unions are a part of that, they are not perfect but imperfect is, in my opinion, better than nothing at all.

There is no doubt that reforms of our social systems are needed but they should surely focus on fairness with compassion and dignity? Jesus showed His compassion over and over during His earthly ministry, going against the established norms of the day to include, encourage and heal many on the margins of life. Shouldn't we be the same?

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’