Saturday, 30 August 2014

Thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge

Having been away for the summer, I missed the build up and hype surrounding the ice bucket challenge. It seemed a bit bizarre that a load of videos of people I know throwing frigid water over themselves appeared in my news feed. I wasn't quite sure how to feel about and in some ways it made me feel uneasy.

I've never been a bandwagon kind-of-person. They are fleeting and ephemeral. There may be a bit of ingrained pride as well ("Look at the plebeian hordes, on another wagon to nowhere," I would think), so it's easy for me to eschew the latest trend and dismiss it as trivial.

Glib giving
The Bible calls us to be generous at all times. We have been dealt with generously by a very generous God. Therefore, our response to this is an openness and freedom with our own material wealth. We are also called to be responsible with the resources we have. That means giving in a well-thought and shrewd manner.

I think people have objected to the thought that this spirit of generosity has been reduced to a whimsical craze, where little thought or commitment is put into the act of giving. A lot of comments have been along these lines: "you can give without throwing a bucket of water over your head." Furthermore, there have been some criticisms of the charity and the research they are funding, which has not helped.

Over the years, I have developed a personal model of giving. The problem is that the ice bucket challenge does not fit well into that model. I have a streak of vain-glory in me, that will often rear its ugly, balding, misshapen head in the guise of generosity. To overcome this, I try to apply a particular Biblical verse to my giving. The Bible tells us that we are to give with one hand so the other doesn't know it's happened. Basically, being discrete is the key. I mostly fail at this, but I try. Obviously, posting a video of you screeching as freezing water pours down your back on Facebook for everyone to see is less than inconspicuous.

Another thing the Bible tells us is to give according to our own conscience. If you are giving because everyone else is or because a friend told you to, it is not according to your own conscience. You can say you did it because you wanted to, but you'd have a hard time convincing a lot of people.

So will I do it?
If I was to get nominated to do the challenge, I would probably do it. ("But after all you wrote," you think, "You'd still do it?") There is one reason for this.

Christians are often known for what they are against. This seems odd as Jesus came not to condemn the world. Despite this, Christians are often seen to be willing to condemn pretty much anything. It's not as if Jesus chose not to condemn the world because we were already doing such a good job at it but it was because of his love and mercy. Despite our imperfections and problems, he saves us rather than condemns us.

Therefore, I would much prefer to be known for what I am for than what I am against. Despite being imperfect, the ice bucket challenge encapsulates a lot of what I am for.

I am for generosity. I am for small acts that can make a small difference. I am for giving joyfully. So therefore, I am up for the ice bucket challenge.

Now, I just have to be nominated...

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