News tends to fade quickly in our society. A story might dominate the headlines for a few days, or a week, or if it’s a big or developing story, it might stick around for a few weeks. But inevitably, we lose interest. Even an ongoing crisis tends to fade from the spotlight as we, the news consumers, get fatigued. We like our news in soundbites, in small neatly packaged three minute segments, or in less than three swipes on our iPad. Maybe it speaks to our fickle consumerism or our fast-paced lifestyle, but most of the time when the camera crews leave, the crisis doesn’t pack up with it.
Have you given much thought to Syria lately? Last week, the EU saw its highest number of incoming refugees yet. While America is losing interest, the people fleeing for their lives are still fleeing for their lives, in no less dramatic a fashion as they were three weeks ago when we were paying attention. Every day, children and their parents pack onto overcrowded small boats to cross choppy water, many of them never making it to dry land.
Granted, this is one of many crises happening around the world. We have millions of children living in poverty in our own country (16 million to be exact), and millions more around the world. There is also ISIS that is oppressing entire cities and overtaking countries. Not to mention drought and famine in Africa, earthquakes in Asia, oppression of the people of North Korea, and on and on.
In the face of such great challenges across the globe and here at home, how are we to respond? The people of God are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are called to pray for suffering people, even after the news coverage ends, even when they are not the flavor of the month. We are also called to give. The Christian organization World Vision, who has been on the front lines caring for the refugees, recently announced a “massive funding shortfall,” which they say impacts children especially hard. Statistically, Christians are better than others at doing charity work, but not so great at non-tithe charitable giving. We should be leading the pack.
Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey, of “Financial Peace University” fame, encourages families work out their finances, get out of debt, and build wealth. He also emphasizes giving. He says that Christians should be able to give like no one else. Why aren’t we? Could it be that we’ve fallen into the trap of not noticing the people in need around us, not seeing them as real people during the three minute news segment? We get so wrapped up in our own lives that Syria becomes something we heard about a few days ago and poverty becomes something for politicians to worry about.
We have been called by God to love. Love through praying and love through giving. If millions of Christians began to take giving seriously, all of these crises might not seem so daunting.