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How would you like it?

"Do for others what you would have them do for you..." Matthew 7.12

I was provoked (in a good way) by a letter from the French mystic, Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), in which he explains his passion for reaching out to his spiritually poor neighbours in the Middle East. His logic is that if he lacked saving faith in Jesus and realised his predicament, he would want someone to come to his rescue - so surely those of us who are privileged to possess that faith should make it our business to share it? After all, is that not what Jesus himself taught us to do, through the verse above?

The difficulty is that most unbelievers do not realise their need for saving faith in Jesus. They might be devotees of another faith or committed atheists. They might be miserable or blissfully happy, materially impoverished or enveloped in the lap of luxury. But if the appetite is not there, how can we feed it?

Returning to cold logic, the answer must be to arouse the appetite that will reveal to those unbelievers their lack and their need. Easier said than done! Interestingly, what apparently "changed the game" in the early years of the church and catapulted it from persecuted minority to official religion of the Roman Empire, was the example of Christians during health pandemics. When the pagan doctors fled to preserve their own skin, Christians remained behind, ministering to the suffering, despite the risk to their own well-being. There must be something we can learn from this example.

If it is true that faith is better caught than taught then, to harp on the pandemic theme, how can we make our faith more infectious? If I knew the answer to that I would be the new Billy Graham or a 21st century St Paul! But I suspect it has to do with integrity. In turning the world upside down, it was said of that first generation church "see how these Christians love one another". That would be a start. Of all the organisations that should not work, the local church must be near the top of the list because it gathers people from different generations and social backgrounds, with different interests and roles in life. So, if we can make this work...

Lord, give us grace, so that we may fulfil the Golden Rule and earn the right to speak into the lives of our neighbours and thereby serve their deepest needs.



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