Watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition this past Sunday night with Joy reminded me of this article I read a week or so ago. The article talks about the sad tale of families who have received make-overs who have been unable to keep up with the monthly bills and ended up in foreclosure. (6 according to their count) As the writer points out, the producers and designers of the show are now attempting to scale back and make homes that are within the capacity of the recipients to maintain.
The real point of interest for me, however, is the connection to charity in general. So often, we are like the producers and designers. We have grand ideals and think that we can just come in and drop a huge gift on someone without context and relationship. Too often, this leads to a tragic return to reality where we have actually placed a burden on those we had hoped to help. As the author of this post concludes:
Likewise, the solution to our failed charitable efforts should not be to abandon Good Samaritanism altogether. Instead, we need to intensely scrutinize our efforts, retool where necessary, and ensure that those on the receiving end of our efforts are partners in the process.
I like this idea of partnership. “Charity” that simply looks at the recipient as “them” and “we” are coming to help them do what they can’t, and give what we think they need is ill-fated. What we need is true charity, one that shows them love, and values them. Our interaction should elevate them, and make the recipient feel a valued part of our community. We are helping them not because they are outsiders, but because they are a part of us. We are inextricably linked together. And it isn’t just about the body of Christ. We are called, as Christians, to care for those marginalized in our society, both within the Church and without. May we find ways to authentically connect with those around us we hope to serve with our charity, and truly love them with the Spirit of Christ, and meet their real needs.