I have been trying to plan a new project and I knew that I could not do it alone. I needed some helpers. I asked some of the Christians I knew and they were all too busy. I asked some non-Christians and they said that sounds like a good idea when can we start!
I was worried and puzzled. If this is supposed to be an organisation with a Christian bias why are those who are most interested in working with me not Christians. They are simply people with a heart to help other people in the kind of ways that this project is expected to do.
The light dawned when I heard a teacher put a slightly different interpretation on the parable of the kingdom in Matthew 22 than I had heard before. The story goes like this some people were asked to go to a wedding banquet but they had other things that they wanted to do instead. The king then said OK if you won’t come along I will look amongst the homeless and people who are not as well off as you and find some people who will come along. Those that did come were even rewarded coming by being provided with new clothes. In other words, if those who were invited first will not join in with God’s plans then He will go out and find people who will. He will also reward them for joining him.
This helped to explain the situation I had found myself in. It also explains why we have so many organisations that are providing health or social care within our communities. This was once the responsibility of the church. In fact the early forms of social care legislation in the 18th and 19th century were based on the parish system. It became law that those who were in charge of running the parish church also had to hand out money to people who needed it as they had no work. Those who were disabled or ill or too young to work were cared for in the workhouses. Attitudes have changed as at that time it was more unacceptable to be dependent on others and not to be able to work yourself. Today we have a National Health Service and local councils who provide social care for those who struggle because of either health or disability. Being too ill or disabled to work is also less of a stigma so as a nation we are not as unkind to those who cannot work. However during the 20th century the church retreated from providing many of these services and now they are provided by the state.
Problem is we are now beginning to feel the squeeze financially and the government does not have the money to pay for as many of these services as it once did. In fact some would say that the need was so great that it never had enough money to do all that was needed. Now the church has got weaker and who is there left to provide these services. Some faith groups support their members much better than the church does so are they going to expand the services that they provide for their own into the wider community?
God will find a way of providing for people whether it is his first choice of people or his second choice or even his third choice. If those who believe that they are amongst his first choice do not follow him and set up ways of helping others then He will move on and they may find that they regret it. In fact in some ways that is where we are at the moment as people of faith struggle against those who deny them opportunities to display jewellery that reflect their faith or suggest that it is a sacking offence to mention words like God or church during working hours.
The teacher emphasised the idea that God could anyone for his purposes by reminding us that if in the Old Testament He used a donkey to help him achieve what he wanted. In other words if those that He wanted to work with him to fulfill his purposes would not do so then it would not matter who was willing He would use them.
I was sad that this had happened with the project that I am working on. However, I knew that God was in control and that He was teaching me things through this experience.