I am a sucker! I sponsor a bear, a dogs’ home and regularly find myself enticed into another pulled heart-string induced commitment to yet another furry beast cause.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something in me that is so quick to respond to certain needs, and yet I find myself ashamed and shocked at a hardness or insensitivity toward the more serious issue of human suffering.
Guilt is often the driving force behind my decisions to support those less fortunate than myself and unfortunately guilt is often very short lived.
We live in a time where most of us are consumed with ourselves; with accumulation; the job we need to be doing today; the ladder that we climb which is balanced precariously against some broken wall in a system which tells us that the ‘I’ is to be cared for before anything else.
The problem with this is that while we only ever feed and nurture ourselves, we break down the very thing that ultimately will make us strong and secure – community. I’m not just talking about the community you live in (although that’s very important and the place to start), I’m talking about the fact that we are a global community. I am inexplicably linked to you, and you to the next. The more we only see ‘I’, the more we break ourselves down.
I once sat with a lady from Malawi. She had contracted HIV after becoming a prostitute – the option she took to keep both herself and son fed and alive. She later became a Christian and was incredibly brave and courageous in telling others her story and offering hope to those who were on a similar journey to her own.
We were in Subway (the sandwich shop) and I suddenly realised that even the choices we have over sandwiches are so vast and extreme! What choices did she ever have? I asked her what she made of our country and all that we have, this is what she said: “The world is a very small place and can turn very quickly. One day you could be me.”
I was struck to the heart. This lady was onto something. If our security is found in what we have – wealth and greed – and the world changed for us tomorrow, who would be our helper? What community have we built? I don’t say this to insinuate that we better have allies, I say this because ‘we’ could very easily be ‘them’ one day and how bitter to know that we ignored our other halves!
We long for comfort, intimacy, satisfaction and security and yet miss the truth that we find these things in serving and being committed to other people.
It seems that to Jesus the most important thing was to be in communion with God first and then with others. These are joined and one cannot be without the other.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40
It’s easy to be moved by one of surge of guilt and do one thing that takes the guilt away for a few months, but as Christians I think God is asking for something more.
I really want a change of my heart. I want to see how God sees his world and be part of a global community. I want to sponsor a child not out of guilt but because I ‘get’ that she or he is part of me! I want to come alongside people who can offer dignity and a set of tools to help that person help themselves. I want to write a letter because I’m in a relationship with that person and connected to their need. I want to stop feeling guilt and start feeling hopeful.
Sponsoring my child through Compassion is just one way that I’m praying God starts to change me. I have a long way to go, but the world is actually a very small place.
In 2009 I went on a trip to see the work of Compassion in Ethiopia. Here’s a short video of my experience.
Nicki Rogers is a Christian singer, songwriter and sponsors a child through Compassion. Visit www.nickirogers.com/ to find out more about her music.