Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Christian Test of Bequeathal

“Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.”

~2 Corinthians 8:7 (NRSV).

As the world knows, floods have swept the plains of Australia’s lands. Floods always do. What they also do is spread havoc at a living level and throw people’s lives that are affected into chaos. Westerners are not used to such ‘living’ upheaval.

At another time, 1940 to be exact, the tyranny of Nazi oppression was hitting Western Europe and Britain with unprecedented ferocity; the United Kingdom was being undone in the air. This was the most desperate conflict—at that precise time—known to the history of humankind.

Christian Level Response

To both the above problems there’s a Christian response. First to the flooding. Neighbours help. People fly in from all over the country to clean up the mess. Millions in donations are received and distributed. A National levy is designed. All in all, an acceptable response because it’s timely and it attends to the local needs as best as they can be anticipated.

The tyranny of the Nazi threat in 1939-40 is easy to understate. Winston Churchill was the leader for such a desperate hour. From total domination in the air, victory for Hitler’s Germany was a cakewalk; a threat of biblical proportions. But the pluck of the English and the wise resolve of Churchill saw production of war planes like history had never seen. In one year they were war-ready and able to compete against the gargantuan nemesis, Germany!

Both situations saw the people rise up and conquer the tremendous odds against them.

That is a Christian level response. It is the people for the people by the people.

The Corinthian Hypocrisy

Much like we see in our day, in First Century Corinth there was much wealth. She was a rich and cosmopolitan dual-port city. The strange thing about wealth, however, is it blinds us to the reality of the plight of others; the more we get the more we tend to want.

The abovementioned passage sees the Apostle Paul possibly either flatter the Corinthians by their own bragging (their belief that they had excellent faith, speech, knowledge and so on) or he’s genuinely pleading with them to respond as others have, particularly Jesus (verse 9). Perhaps Paul had both intentions in mind.

The point is the Corinthians’ in their pride spruiked about how good they were, yet when it came down to it there were needy in that region who were not being looked after. This is a far cry from the accounts of even distribution we read of in early Acts (2:45; 4:32-35).

Where are we like the Corinthians these days? Whilst the floods and WWII examples show a positive communal response, where are we failing people in our insufficient bequeathal?

Our Christian Obligation – To Bequeath More Generously

Any disaster, any heartache and really any torment that’s within any semblance of our help, the help goes with swiftness, direction and certainty—wilfully! That’s what Paul is talking about; that’s God’s will so far as our stewardship is concerned.

Some do not have money, so they bequeath what else they have; lodgings, love, laughter, prayer, encouragement... the list is endless.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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