Saturday, October 08, 2005

"When I was hungry, you gave me food"

In the New Testament, Jesus was pretty clear about feeding the hungry. In a nutshell, he's for it.

I had the opportunity this week to spend 4 hours doing volunteer work at the Houston Food Bank. What an incredible operation they have! It's amazing at a business and logistics level to watch how they train a constant stream of new labor, put them to work in a matter of minutes, and produce thousands of pounds of boxed food items every hour.

But what a shame to leave with only an impression of the efficiency. The important thing is how they serve those in need, mostly people affected by Katrina and Rita right now. Recent statistics revealed that the Houston area has served and/or shipped over 6 million meals in the last two months. The previous "record" was 2.5 million meals in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew.

It makes me wonder... how many of these servants are Christians? Or faithful/religious in any sense? I guess there are two main questions I'm mulling over:
1) How many Christians in the Houston area have been involved in hurricane relief efforts over the past several weeks? Are we following the example and instructions of Christ?
2) How many non-religious people have done relief work? And what drives them? If they don't believe in God, and we're all just random results of evolution, what special value does human life have anyway? To paraphrase one of my favorite preachers, if humans are only "molecules in motion", and there is no soul, no God, no absolute truth... why help people?

I know this is a millenia-old issue, and this certainly isn't the first time I've wrestled with it, but it came storming back into my mind while working at the Houston Food Bank.

Note: Half the workers there were convicts, getting a half-day prison leave to pack boxes of food. They had different reasons for being there.

1 comment:

A Human Bean said...

Thanks for the great reminder of our calling by Jesus to help "the least of these." I have often wonder what drives people to do what they do when it is not based upon God. I don't have an answer, but I do wonder if maybe it has something to do with the good feelings some people get from helping others.

I have spent my career working as a fundraiser for various non-profit organizations that help those in need. People respond with money and time for a number of reason. They include (in no particular order):

1. Recognition / Praise
2. Responsibility to thier community / giving back
3. Religious conviction
4. Good feelings

It is interesting some large donor actually become addicted to the feeling and accolade they get from giving. I wonder if some of the people who give without a thought to God do it for these reasons.

We will probably never know the reason everyone does what they do. I know in my life it is directly related to my faith.