How Big Is Your Bump?
by David Allis
17th August, 2014
I have 6 children – which as you will appreciate has its good bits, and its challenges.
One of my sons got married a couple of years ago – seem to be living happily ever after – but a strange thing is happening – his wife is putting on weight – fortunately is because she is pregnant – she has a bump that is getting larger
I want to talk this am about bumps we all have – or I hope we have
I don’t mean our pregnant tummies
And I don’t mean our fat tummies
– although one of my sons, when he was much younger, saw me in my togs and asked if I was having a baby … he was obviously very young, very rude, and had terrible eyesight
Big Circle & Bump
Draw a big circle in your mind – and picture a small bump on the edge of it
The big circle is everything we do for ourselves, our family, our friends and people like us
- It includes our time, energy, money, resources
- It is for people we are responsible for (eg our children, our parents, our spouse, other relatives)
- It is for people where we have reasonably reciprocal relationships – our friends, work colleagues etc – we do something for them, and later they will probably do something for us
The bump is the things we do for others – where there is no hope of payback
- Things that are relatively altruistic – almost completely for the benefit of others, and with little benefit or payback for ourselves (apart from maybe making us feel good)
- Things like sponsoring a WV child, or giving to a charity or feeding a hungry person
So – Big Circle & Smaller Bump normally – although some people might have a monstrous bump … someone like Ma T presumably had a very small circle, and a Big Bump
But most people in NZ have a big circle and small bump
- Looking after ourselves, our family, relatives and our friends
- I think most giving to church is part of this Big Circle – arguably most church giving is used to pay for the roof over your head and the pew to sit on etc – if we’re part of a church, we need to pay for our seats
- While we’re thinking about the church – it also effectively has a Big Circle – and a bump – the Big Circle of activities, money, energy expended on providing the building, ministers, staff, programs for church people etc
o And the bump is the altruistic things – missions, food bank etc
Big Circle – helping people we are responsible for or have relationship with – good things (not bad) – lovely, nice, good etc
Bump – also good things … but for the benefit of others – people who we aren’t responsible for, and are outside our normal circle of influence
The Problem / Challenge / Question
The problem / challenge / question we face is this
– we live in a beautiful & rich & safe country – and probably one of the best suburbs – we’re in the top 10% or 5% of people in the world (in terms of wealth, safety, health etc)
Our Big Circle is BIG
Yet, unfortunately, we live in a world where people are still starving.
Or dying of preventable diseases.
Or being persecuted.
Or being evicted from their villages, only able to take what they can carry.
Or living in refugee camps for years with nowhere to go.
We have BIG BIG circles – these people have very small ‘big circles’.
And our bump can make a huge difference in their lives.
The problem, or challenge, or question for us, is the relative size of our big circle, and our bump …. While others are in such need in the world.
Would we swap positions with the needy person in Ethipia? Or Iraq? Sudan? NO
But if the positions were reversed – if we were the starving person – what would we be saying to the person in Devonport with the BIG BIG Circle?
“Hey – look over here – help …. Make your bump bigger … help me …”
Matt 22 – Love God & love neighbour
Matt 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
613 laws of Moses – condensed into 2 – love God (completely) & love your neighbour (as yourself)
In the Luke version of this, the lawyer asking the Q goes on to ask who is my neighbour
– Jewish teachers had often interpreted “neighbor” to include only people of their own nationality and religion
– and the ;lawyer was possibly hoping for this answer, and justification.
But Jesus replies & tells the story we know as the parable of the good Samaritan.
At the time of Jesus, the Jews and Samaritans had been enemies for hundreds of years.
The Jews considered the Samaritans to be religious heretics of a foreignnationality and inferior race,
Jews would have no contact with Samaritans.
There was no one less like a neighbour than a Samaritan. (despised enemy would be a better term)
So – if a Samaritan man could be a “neighbor” to the Jewish man who was robbed and beaten, then Jesus is extending the definition of “neighbor” to include all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction
In this, the person we are neighbour to expands to “whoever we see in need and can help”
Unfortunately these days, with TV, internet etc … we can see a lot further …. And we are able to help at long distances – our neighbours are everywhere in the world – we can reach out to help worldwide
TODAY we have more knowledge, and more reach, and more ability to help people in need than ever before in human history
Our neighbour is anyone we see in need and can help – TODAY people in Syria are our neighbours – people in Iraq, in Sudan, in Ethiopia – OUCH – this is not easy. It is a huge responsibility.
Challenge – for me – how big is my bump – and can I make it bigger
Son & d-in-law – their bump is creating a new life – its really exciting for them & us.
This is what we are biologically created for – to live a good life, and to give life to others
We don’t have to be pregnant to give life – we can have a different type of bump – one that can also create life – give life – save life – as we love our ‘neighbours’
Matthew reading – the lawyer was wanting to TEST JC – JC passed the test. But in some ways, his answer is also a test or challenge or inspiration for us …. To love God fully, AND love our neighbour as ourself.
How big is my bump? Your bump? Our corporate bump (as a church)?
And can I make my bump bigger? Shuffle some of my time, energy, love, finance, possessions from my Big Circle into my Bump – and hence help others.
Can You? Can We? Can this church?
Our big circle might need to become a little smaller – but a relatively small change to it can make a big difference to our bump – and to the lives affected by our bump.
But What Can We Do?
In a world where 2bn people in world living on $2/day – there is no shortage of effective ways to help people
Sponsoring Children (WV / TEAR FUND) – many people in NZ are already doing this – great, changing lives
Something I came across the other day – a way to help children in Africa resulting in them, on average, earning 20% more each year for their adult life – imagine that – if I could do something to help my children earn 20% more – I’d jump at the chance (even for my rude son who asked if I was pregnant).
We can do this for some children in parts of Africa – Deworming – cost $1 per year – improves their health, and hence their education & hence their earning capacity for life
And there are things you can do in NZ – there are poor people in NZ, lonely people, those without families, people with psych problems …. Many people that we can LOVE
Local Friend – Saved from What?
Friend locally – not a Christian, no faith – but has a life that seems good – lovely wife, kids are doing well, successful in business. So – I ask myself – what would faith or salvation look like for him? What effect could JC have in his life?
– my best answer is that one thing he could be ‘saved’ from living a lovely but relatively selfish & self-centred life (with only a very small bump) & become someone who is less self-centred & selfish, and has a much bigger bump – and makes a significant difference in the lives of others in this world
And this is what we also need to be ‘saved’ from.
We live in a society that is incredibly materialistic, hedonistic and self-centred.
We need to say NO to some of that, and YES to loving our neighbours in a life-changing way … our neighbours in Devonport, in Beachhaven, in West AK, South Ak, Chch, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq etc
We are called to be counter-cultural – we are called to serve God’s kingdom – we are called to love God (completely) and love our neighbour (as ourself)
Inhabit the Tension
I came across a phrase recently that I have found helpful to ponder – the suggestion that we need to learn to “inhabit the tension” rather than always trying to resolve it.
I explained this to my son the other day (the one who asked if I was pregnant) – he’s now in his 20s – I have a tension between being relatively rich, and living a blessed life in a wonderful suburb in a beautiful and rich country – with my awareness that billions of people in the world live in poverty, hunger, war, violence, and that we who are blessed have a responsibility to help those in need.
We are blessed – and so we need to be a blessing to others.
Our cups runneth over … sloshing down around our feet – while so many others in the world have empty cups. That is a tension for me. My wealth – and others need.
I told my son that I didn’t want to resolve this tension – the 2 ways the tension could be resolved are both unappealing to me – I could stay rich and ignore the needy – or I could give everything away to the poor, and become poor in the process.
Neither of these is appealing – rather I want to “inhabit this tension” – so it shapes who I am and what I do for the rest of my life. I want to be uncomfortable about the gap between the rich (us) and the poor. I want to use that discomfort to motivate me to do something active – to try to be more effective in loving my neighbour
Jesus said the greatest commandments were love God (completely) & love neighbour (anyone we see in need and can help).
The challenge for us is to work how best to be obedient to this, in our modern, materialistic, self-centred society.
I want my bump to grow. I want to love God and love my neighbour. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to help change peoples lives. And I’m sure you all do to.
Heb 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another even more …” It’s hard to follow God by ourselves. We need each other – for encouragement and challenge – spurring one another on to good works – to loving God, and loving our neighbours.
Finish with a thought about Christmas … for the past few years, Margaret & I have tried to do something different, and have tried to encourage a few others to do the same thing – we have asked ourselves
“Can we give more to the poor than to the rich this Christmas”….
The ‘rich’ are our kids and family.
How do we give more to the poor than the rich … possibly by giving less to the rich … possibly by giving more to the poor … one thing it has done is help us adjust our priorities / values a bit.
1 Jn 3:16-24 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us