Charity vs. security: one dumb Xian's perspective

As an ambassador of Jesus, driving around my assigned territory of Connecticut yesterday, ;-), I heard an interesting piece on NPR yesterday about the incredible impact that wise giving can make in the world. I've talked about wise giving recently. The British group, Giving What We Can, founded by an Oxford ethics professor, Toby Ord, strips away all the  feel good aspects of charity and looks at what charities save the most lives per dollar. As an ambassador of a kingdom whose founder's basic premise for all our interactions is to love our neighbor as ourselves, and not someone who's primary concern is the 2nd amendment of the USA, I'm really interested in how I can help more of my neighbors with the stipend granted me.

Other kind-hearted and well meaning ambassadors feel that possessing personal firearms, that they could use against those who would visit evil upon us, like at an elementary school Newtown, CT, 26 killed, or on a family in Cheshire, CT, three killed. What if evil visits my home? What if I'm unable to stop wicked murders because I do not have a weapon, on hand, loaded, and ready, in constant watchfulness of evil, because I chose not to spend a few hundred dollars on a firearm? What if I spent those few hundred dollars on a charity that provides anti-malarial nets to families in Africa?

Malaria kills a million human beings a year.
70% of them are under 5 years old.
It's the main killer of pregnant women.
Each net costs $4.

For $200, I could protect the lives of 50 men, women and children. Or I could buy a firearm, and maybe never, ever use it. I can choose between doing actual or potential good. Of course, I could do both, but the "potential benefit" plan doesn't seem to hold water with the kingdom I represent.

Jesus tells a story.

11 While he had their attention, and because they were getting close to Jerusalem by this time and expectation was building that God's kingdom would appear any minute, he told this story: 12 "There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. 13 But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, 'Operate with this until I return.' 14 "But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: 'We don't want this man to rule us.' 15 "When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done. 16 "The first said, 'Master, I doubled your money.' 17 "He said, 'Good servant! Great work! Because you've been trustworthy in this small job, I'm making you governor of ten towns.' 18 "The second said, 'Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.' 19 "He said, 'I'm putting you in charge of five towns.' 20 "The next servant said, 'Master, here's your money safe and sound. I kept it hidden in the cellar. 21 To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don't suffer fools gladly.' 22 "He said, 'You're right that I don't suffer fools gladly - and you've acted the fool! 23 Why didn't you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?' 24 "Then he said to those standing there, 'Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.' 25 "They said, 'But Master, he already has double . . .' 26 "He said, 'That's what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. 27 "'As for these enemies of mine who petitioned against my rule, clear them out of here. I don't want to see their faces around here again.'" Luke 19 (The Message)

In my understanding of this story, Jesus wants his people to risk their heavenly stipends right now. If, dear reader, you are a fellow ambassador and want to keep your investments in the family, so to speak, there is a new top 10 list of Christian charities out this week. I already support a couple of them myself and am happy to endorse them.

In sum, I think I can make investments now, that pay dividends right away by saving lives right away, by changing family trajectories right away, by removing cultural obstacles right away, that an investment in a gun cannot. I am not choosing personal security. I think it's a mirage anyway. I choose charity. There are concrete results everyday with that route, and a promise for when I am called back to the kingdom I'm called to represent.


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