Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Faith in Action

Inaction is not an option for Christians. The picture shows a clay model of a life-size bronze sculpture of a beggar by the American artist Timothy Schmalz. I have used it in worship to focus and ground our prayers for others because it is such a disturbing image. It challenges and unsettles because it demands a response from us. We have to choose. And we choose knowing that Jesus identifies himself with the beggar. The open outstretched palm is his.

Colossians ch.3 makes the point crystal clear: "So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective." 

We are to see as Christ sees, to be attentive and alert to where he is active, to look at situations with a resurrection perspective. This also means looking up at ourselves with the eyes of the beggar and seeing things from their perspective too. All of this is why inaction is not an option for Christians.

The Earthquake in China and the Cyclone in Myanmar are powerful reminders of the ever-present challenge of this image and of the fragility of life. The Generals in Myanmar sat on their hands and watched their people die, when the global community was ready and waiting to respond. The worsening global food crisis is punishing the poor worldwide. The credit crunch has added untold misery to the lives of millions. Soaring energy prices compound the distress. Climate change is already hitting the poorest and most vulnerable people across the planet. Inaction is not an option for Christians.

If you want examples from history, how about these for starters: St Aidan is given a fine horse by King Oswin, and promptly gives it to the first beggar he meets. St Francis embraces a leper, St Martin shares his cloak with a beggar. Timothy Schmalz's sculpture gets to the heart of what was going on in these encounters; they met Christ face to face.

And what of today? Brian MacLaren's new book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope is a superb read for all of us who wish to be challenged to put faith into action in a way that gets to grips with these global crises. Take a look at the video. Get the book. Put your faith into action where you are. Go to where the vulnerable and needy stretch out their hands and that is where you will meet Jesus.


  1. hi! can i use your beggar photo for a video documentary?

  2. Found your link through Google and wanted to Thank You for the use of this pic- followed the guidelines on Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: -
    I was also blessed by the "heart" of your blog as I read throughout the pages- i will be back! It is a blessing.
    it was posted on