Many Christians, especially those found in political spheres sometimes think of charity/alms as a dirty words. Charity/alms is a really important part of maintaining our unity. Through abandoning the true meaning of charity, we’ve forgotten that Christ made the greatest charitable contribution when he died upon the Cross. The difference between Christ charity and ours, is that His is personal, and empowering. He wasn’t worried if those receiving would ever be able to repay the debt…that’s not charity at all. A Christ like charity compels the receiver, as well as the giver to unity…to identification to the other. Our version of charity has become impersonal, and tends to only meet the immediate need of the people, without actually addressing their longterm needs causing greater bifurcation and disharmony between the giver and the one receiving.
“But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
Reminding ourselves of the biblical meaning of charity/alms plays a vital role in making the invisible church visible in our everyday world. It keeps us aware of the grace and provision of God. Everyday charity can be money, food, or anything else given freely to the poor or needy. When the hands of a beggar are outstretched for charity what should be our first response. Often times my first response is to judge or be critical…to determine if whoever is asking is worthy of whatever I choose to give. This thinking keeps my charity at superficial level. It keeps the recipient out of reach, so that I don’t have to identify with them. If if I’m unable to identify with those receiving then it makes it even harder to live in unity with that person. My charity must go beyond my financial means, moving me toward greater unity with my brothers and sisters, as well as greater intimacy with Christ. When we can sit our judgement, pride, self-righteousness, and the fear of losing power & privilege aside; it’s there, where we’ll find the true meaning of giving…it’s there, where we’ll live out of our unity.
Just like Peter we may not have silver or gold, but what we do have is far greater. We have the gift of The Gospel, the gift of unity…the gift of love; a priceless, life giving treasure. We have alms for the soul. Jesus teaches us repeatedly how we are to treat the beggar. The difference between us and the beggar can be seen in Acts 3. We’re too proud to beg, and too selfish to give of what we have. We’ve lost touch with reality. The reality that we are all beggars in need of charity/alms. We should all be working towards becoming professional beggars.
“And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.” Acts 3:2