I think Comic relief is great thing. Any charity that has raised over a billion pounds in it's lifetime to aid the poorest in the world needs our support. The problem is that we could do so much more.
Most of the time we ignore the needs of the people on our doorstep, let alone the vast issues of global poverty. I even found myself avoiding opening an article on the famine in Somalia and South Sudan. I didn't want to engage with it emotionally. To see the distressing pictures of emaciated children. So I deliberately chose to insulate myself in my comfort zone.
God is very clear that his people are to be those who care deeply about others. When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
If I was sitting in the dust cradling my dying child in my arms in Somalia, I'd want the fat, wealthy middle class bloke in England to open the article about my plight and think what he could do to help. Me ignoring the situation isn't loving my neighbour as myself.
I know that the issue is huge. I know that the issue is complicated. But I can tell you now that if the issue personally effected me, I'd want it addressed. And God does too.
The Old Testament often flags up how God's people have lost sight of the most needy in society:
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:16-17)
Despite an outwardly healthy religious life, the inner reality of their hearts was exposed by their lack of interest in the needs of the most needy. I fear that I am the same. I am extraordinarily selfish. Interested in my own comfort more than the life of millions. Let alone their eternal life.
You see it's not just that I avoid thinking about people's physical needs. I also avoid thinking about their spiritual. And the problem is that whilst you can move hearts with pictures of starving children. You can't show pictures of the horror of hell. And I meet people potentially heading there every day.
I'm not sure that writing this blog will mean that I wake up tomorrow transformed into someone who loves his neighbour as himself. But I pray that God might continue to show me how much I don't. And that as I come to him for forgiveness in Christ, he will change my heart so that I might think more about the needs of those around me. Spiritual and physical. Not just on Red Nose Day.