“But when you have a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13-14
On the 18 July 2018, we celebrate 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. What started out as dedicating 67 minutes of the day, in honour of the father of a nation, to helping others, has grown into the “Make Every Day a Mandela Day” campaign.
I love this campaign, as it shows us that by making a small difference to those within our communities, we can collectively make a large difference to our country. Nelson Mandela’s legacy was not of one single change achieved overnight, but rather of a life dedicated to continuous actions that eventually brought about the change he sought.
But what I love even more is how the campaign and Madiba’s legacy highlights the responsibility we have to each other as Christ followers.
In this verse, Luke is issuing two challenges:
- We need to serve and help those in need
- We need to be inclusive of those divided from us
And each of these actions is as important as the other.
When we are in a relationship with the Lord, or when we look at the example of Christ’s life on earth, we can see so clearly that God does not just provide for our physical wants, but he provides for our emotional and spiritual needs, too.
It is our duty to serve and to give to those in need because God asks it of us. And even by the standards of the world, it is good to give. I say to you, friends, you need to be giving of your time, your talents and your possessions. No matter how much or how little you are capable of giving, it is the heart of the giver that the Lord sees.
But the question I ask you is this: can you truly know how to give to if you cannot even fathom what life is like for others?
Look around you at our society, our country and our communities. Can you see the divide that exists between the affluent and the poor? Can you see the rift between races, cultures and tribes? Can you see the gulf between genders, classes, those of a different sexual orientation, or people living with disabilities?
I do. And what’s more, I see so much unwillingness to cross those divides and become connected with those who are unlike ourselves.
And if these great divides exist between us, is anything ever going to change if we stay comfortably on our side without daring to learn what life is like on the other side? We cannot hope to be united if we lack understanding of those we should be unified with.
It can be overwhelming when you look at all the problems that exist in the world and it’s easy to think, what difference will my small actions of understanding, inclusion, and help make to this world? But Jesus doesn’t ask us to change the world – he already did that. What he does ask us to do is to look at those around us, help them, include them and love them with Christ’s love. And that love encompasses inclusion, understanding and giving.
So, this Mandela Day, don’t just dedicated 67 minutes of your life in honour of a man who set us a great example, but instead, use it as the day that you start to honour Christ’s command in Luke 14 to serve, help and reach out to others within your community. Use this day to begin your journey to bringing Christ-like unity to those around you.