Most people know the old proverb: “Give someone a fish and they’ll eat for a day; teach them to fish and they’ll never go hungry.” The other day though, someone told me a modern rendition of it that they had heard in a popular sitcom. It went something like this: “Give someone a fish and they’ll eat for a day; teach them to fish, and you won’t have to share your fish anymore.” Well, I supplied the expected chuckle, and our conversation just moved along as conversations do. But there was something about that comment that stuck out as significant and it kept coming back to my mind from time to time until I had sorted it out. The comment is changed to reveal the ulterior motive of the character, which is, in this case, less than admirable.
Branching off from there, I realized too that the real reason I kept thinking about it was that it spoke to a prevailing attitude towards what we sometimes (particularly in church circles) call “charity”. Now there is a loaded word! Charity as it was first used in the English Bible was intended to express the epitome of what we now call “Love”. It is, in fact, the word that New Testament writers used to express God’s perfect Love for us that caused him to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf; with, incidentally, no ulterior motive whatsoever.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to suggest that the church may have some sort of hard hearted motivation when doing good things for our communities (like the character in the sitcom). My point is though, that when the church (our church) goes about “charity” with an ulterior motive, it is A) easily recognized, B) uncomfortable, and [here’s the worst part] C) uncharitable in the larger Biblical context of the word, towards those that receive it.
The ulterior motives that people are frequently wary of at this point regarding churches; is that as we work in our communities to feed, comfort, or even, entertain, that our unspoken goal is church attendance, moral reform, or community recognition from the folks that we interact with.
Representing a God that loves them with no strings attached.
I think that our new community outreaches at Freeport Church are designed to “Do Good, Well” in this regard. Our new “Supper Club” that will be taking place on the first Thursday of the month beginning in November just wants to provide good healthy food and cooking tips for the people that come. Our Youth Group “Limitless” that will be meeting on Wednesday evenings is seeking just to be a safe, fun place for young adults and teens to spend time together and grow. There are others ideas in the works too that have as their goal meeting needs and improving people’s lives; and representing a God that loves them with no strings attached.
So, whether we call that charity, or love, or doing good, well…we can’t wait to meet whoever comes and serve whatever need they come to us with.