Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaching people how to fish

You've heard the old wore out saying 'It's better to teach a person to fish than to give them a fish'. Those who say it many times are doing neither but the point they make is very valid... We don't want to give to someone if it is not really going to help.

Neither does Crosswind. I admit that many times in order to give a 'hand up' you must first reach your 'hand out' but at the end we want for lives to be changed, stabilized, become productive and whole. And we know that 'hand out's' do not do that, in fact they do quite the opposite.

When you give someone a handout you demean them. Nobody wants a handout. My mom was very poor when dad left. Eight kids, three part-time minimum wage jobs, very poor. We would have starved before my mom would have taken a hand out. There was assistance available and you can be sure we needed it, but she wouldn't take it. No way. Maybe it was pride, maybe a healthy self-esteem who knows? But I know one thing, she didn't take handouts! Something inside you dies when you take a handout. But many people when they are desperate enough do it. And what we want to do is to recover that 'something inside that died' when they did.

So how do you do that? Well the short answer is to teach 'em how to fish'. The social service answer is you rehabilitate them and develop them. And the Biblical answer is that you restore them to relationship with God, their neighbors and their communities, that is, restore what sin has broken.

Jesus said he came to preach Good News to the poor, to heal broken hearts, to set captives free, and to declare Jubilee. Jubilee was a restoring back to the original condition. We were created in God's image. Sin ravaged and destroyed every vestige of that glorious image. Christ came to restore it. In us. In those around us. In our communities.

Friends, the image of the fish has long represented Jesus. The Hebrew letters (Icthus) inside it mean Jesus Messiah God's Son Savior. He is the 'fish' that the world needs. According to ancient tradition, when an early Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company.

Christ is the restorer of broken lives and relationships. So give them the 'fish' and teach them how to 'fish' or as Jesus said it before he left earth..."Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... and teaching them to obey every thing I command you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age."

Happy fishing,


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