Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More Than a Bucket of Ice Water on the Head

If you aren't on facebook, instagram, or just don't care about social media, you may have not heard yet about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It has gone viral and continues to raise more and more money for research into this disease. As of yesterday, that number is in the $70 million territory, which is a huge amount of money. The rules get a bit fuzzy at times (as anything viral is prone to), but basically, you dump a bucket of ice water on your head, and then challenge friends or family to do the same, or donate money, or both.

There are compilations on YouTube of celebrities taking the challenge and people failing at it in almost every way imaginable. Some people, including President Obama, were unwilling to take on the challenge due to to amount of water it uses or because of fear the money will be used for stem cell research. Much internet ink has been spilled over this idea, with many claiming this is just group-think or fad activism at it's worst.

One thing that has struck me about this whole thing is how many young people have gotten involved. A survey of teenagers before this summer would probably have produced dismal results regarding ALS, but now, there is awareness. Greater than this, I hope that everyone involved discovers something new. I hope they discover generosity.

Giving is an essential part of the Christian life. A "God perspective" of possessions and money is essential to our understanding of the world. In Matthew 6, Jesus says "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We recognize that there are certain external things in life that display inward realities. When a 12-year-old spends every last bit of their money on candy swizzles, they are showing what is most important to them, namely candy swizzles. Likewise, when a 40-year-old spends every last bit of their disposable income on a two-wheel device that lets them drive down the street very quickly, they also display what is important to them.

The great thing about generosity, though, is it is a spiritual disciple just like prayer or study. It is something we can get a taste for and the amazing thing about it is, it is fun! Not in a "look at how much better I am than all these other people" sort of way, but an actual "look at what God can do with my little bit" sort of way.

The reality is that pouring water on your head is kinda fun, especially when it means you get to tell your friends to do the same thing, but that is not what it is about. I hope that at least a few people out there give money away and get a small taste of generosity. And through that small taste, they look around for other ways to get involved, to reject a consumerist "me" mentality and find ways to give. I know that everyone that participates will not experience this, but I think there will be a few. And for those few, this could be a first step.