Another part of our mission in life is to understand what great causes appeal to us. To what cause will I give my life? This is the main question! A “cause” is a principle or a movement that someone supports or follows. In our use of the word it is a movement that supports a philanthropic issue that meets a need in the world. There are thousands of causes in this world all crying out for help and support.
Should Christians be involved in the needs of the world?
It seems ludicrous that we should even have to ask this question. Yet as I travel in conservative Christian circles there is such an aversion to the “world” that I often wonder if there is a genuine love for people outside the faith? While it is true that the Bible says not to love the world or things of the world, that passage is specifically talking about the world’s belief system referred to as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It is not talking about a lack of love for people God made in His own image. It is true that we are not to buy into the world’s values of selfishness, greed and pride but at the same time we are to obey the Scriptures that instruct us to do good in the world. God commands us in the Bible to love, do justice and to do good.
We Are Commanded To Love
Throughout the Scriptures we are commanded to love. This is a fallen world and love is needed in every corner. There are numerous ways to express love and many causes that have great need for loving people to respond.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
I John 4:16
The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
We are constantly given opportunities to love others. Part of this love is to have concern, kindness, empathy, and respect for the many causes in this world.
We Are Commanded To Do Justice
As with love, there are many causes for justice with which to be involved. However, it is often easier to be involved in an act of love, than it is with justice. Our acts of love are often in response to unmet needs. There is usually no resistance to a loving act. In fact, love is usually followed by a great deal of appreciation. Unlike love, a response of justice is often met with resistance. The word “just” is the root of the word “justice”. But, it is also the root of the word “justification.” Justification is the rational for why we feel “just” in our actions. Our opinion of justice often flies in the face of someone who feels justified in his or her injustice! Perhaps this is caused by the differences in the way that we were raised and he or she does not see their actions as unjust. Do you believe that a person raised in a prejudice environment is interested in what we see as justice toward the people he or she was taught to hate? When we administer justice, it is usually in a difficult situation. Nevertheless, God is serious about justice.
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalms 82:3
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:6 – 7
We Are Commanded To Do Good
Jesus was righteous and good. If we are to be like Him, then we must desire to do good. There are so many causes that are the “good” thing to do.
The Scriptures teaches us to do good.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matt 5:13 – 16
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
II Corinthians 9:8
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
I Timothy 6:17 – 18
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.
I Peter 2:12
You Can Help With A Cause Through Your Church
We are Christ’s Kingdom on earth. When people see us, shouldn’t they see a resemblance to the Kingdom of Heaven? Have you ever been to an ethnic market place? The sounds, foods, dress, customs, language are all indicative of their motherland. We see the people in the market, we see a little about their culture, where they or their ancestors were from. Likewise when we are led by God to get involved in causes, when we act out of love, justice or doing good, we are exhibiting the essence of God, we are showing what life in Heaven, His kingdom, is like.
The truth is that many of the causes that you will consider could be acted upon through a church based ministry reaching out to the community. What a testimony we could have in our community and nation if all the churches started to encourage their members to get involved in causes as God leads them. The church should be leading the forefront in helping with the needs of this nation.
The question is, what would God have you do? He is the one who will guide and direct you. It may be that you will volunteer or work for an agency that is associated with the cause that you are interested in and have a completely different ministry through your church. Many Christians operate this way. It may be that God would guide you to start a ministry in your church to help with this cause or if there is already a ministry involved with the cause that you feel drawn to help them. Your mission is to live for God and follow His guidance in the use of your gifts and talents.
What Moves Us To Take Action?
We are constantly bombarded by needs. If it isn’t at work, home, community or church then our television serves up a world full of needs from extinct animals, suffering children, crime in the streets to political corruptness. Why do some needs move us and others don’t?
While I was in graduate school in Clinical Psychology I owned a marketing company. In school I was taking classes on motivation, cognitive reasoning and social psychology. I found that marketing was a perfect environment to use much of what I learned in classes. Marketing, whether it was a direct mail appeal, radio advertisement or magazine advertisement was created to persuade someone to take action. As I learned more about people’s reasons for choosing behavior I applied it to marketing. Because of my interest in ministry I began to use my marketing in non-profit organizations. Over the years I have studied why people gravitate to some charities and not others.
Why does one cause appeal to us and others don’t? There are many aspects involved in how one chooses a cause. One of the most common reasons we first get involved in a cause is because of an emotional link. The presenting need of the charity creates a visceral response in us. We are emotionally connected. It could be fear, anger, horror or sadness. Whatever the emotion we respond in order to alleviate our negative emotion. Very seldom will reason alone persuade someone to take action. It is the story or photo that elicits a response and draws you to a cause.
Being an emotional issue and having a personal connection however isn’t always enough to move us to action. Instead we find that timing, justice, relevance, urgency, impact and personal appeal all have an important influence our choices.
Often we get involved in a cause because there is a personal link. Subconsciously we consider whether or not the issue effects us or someone we love. What are the ramifications if we choose not to act? Will the problem be solved without us? Would refusing to do something create hardships for us or someone we hold dear? Personal relevance determines whether we will make it a primary concern or not.
For example, a person may never have thought about breast cancer until someone they loved died as a victim of this dreadful disease. As a result of this personal involvement there was anger, frustration and a desire to do something. This scenario is common with many causes. Something happens that makes a person acutely aware of a need and they get involved. There are many causes that you do not know about now, but when the time comes, you will respond. Personal relevance is a major indicator to what causes we support.
Personal tragedy is terrible and motivates people to action, but tragedy that comes at the hand of injustice is an even stronger motivator. Many laws have been changed because the victims of injustice crusaded and rallied enough attention and support to have the injustice overcome. Of course, one does not have to experience the injustice to support the cause. Most of us feel empathy for someone who has been treated unfairly. Assisting retired people who have been cheated out of their life savings or helping a woman and her children who have been victims of abuse are such causes.
Perhaps the best known non-profit that is a result of personal tragedy is MADD. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers started out of one mother’s coping with the pain and injustice of losing a loved one to a drunk driver. Often people will support causes because it appeals to their sense of fairness and what they heard enraged them. Justice is a major motivator in our deciding to support a cause.
Many times we are moved, because not to move is unconscionable. These situations create a feeling of “now or never.” We see this when a natural disaster hits a town. People, who have never supported emergency relief efforts, get heavily involved in order to help their surrounding community during a crisis. Many of the causes in this world have a clock that is ticking, counting down until it is too late. Life threatening issues like war, famine and disease; where whole towns, nations and people can be lost forever have both a sense of urgency and finality about them. Saving historical sites, preserving parks and keeping animals from extinction are causes if ignored, have irreversible consequences. Many ecological issues have this sense of urgency at their core. Urgency is often a contributing factor to the reason people get involved in a cause.
Besides relevance, justice and urgency, many people choose one charity over another because of its impact. People react to causes because they believe that they can make a difference. When one charity allows him or her to leverage their impact more effectively than another, it make sense to that person to support the charity that will allow them to make a larger or more effective impact.
We can use hunger as an example. Some people want to help feed people immediately, while others look at micro enterprising as a better solution with a stronger impact. The quick fix temporarily fills a stomach, while giving a person a loan so they can develop their own small business makes a way to continually fill his or her stomach. The impact of helping a person get a job not only takes care of food, but housing and clothing for that person’s children. This results in a much larger impact than giving a handout.
Causes that educate, encourage, entertain and bring art, science and education to the world can often inspire and motivate people to act. Although there is no immediate effect, the end result will be significant. Supporting a scholarship fund may not have an impact today, but the end result is someone who is educated and has a much better chance at life. The long term effect is very satisfying to the person supporting the cause. Impact is often a deciding factor that influences what causes we support.
It is well known that most of us do things in life either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Not many things are neutral. Where our choices are on a pleasure/pain continuum is what makes up our personal preferences. Food tastes are like that. What tastes bring some people pleasure can often bring someone else pain. Just ask people that have differing opinions on liver and onions or beets! Our personal preferences have a lot to do whether or not a cause appeals to us. What cause appeals to one person may not appeal to another.
Another important appealing element in our support of causes is the personal satisfaction that comes from making a difference. Working with a charity makes people feel good. Someone’s gratitude; the knowledge that you were part of a good thing; making a visible difference; and many other factors make supporting a cause worthwhile.
For many people, their cause appeals to them because it is an important part of their social life. A sense of purpose, making a difference and satisfaction from what one is doing can create a strong bond between people. Is it a surprise that many organizations have learned to turn fund raising into a social event? When people are working together towards a common goal of helping a cause, friendships often result.
It is our hope that understanding different reasons for supporting a charity or cause may open your eyes to new opportunities of service. There is a world in great need; to what great causes will you give your life?
There is no limit to what God could do as you and the others in your church are Spirit led in the use of these gifts. What are some ways that you can use your gifts? You can find out more about that in our workbook How Am I Wired For Ministry? CLICK HERE for your FREE download of How Am I Wired for Ministry.
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