Why Do You Help?

by Aug 19, 2019

Why Do You Help?

by Aug 19, 2019

“So what made you go into social work?” This question normally pops up whenever someone asks me what I do for work. I usually talk about how I’ve seen this “massive need” in our islands, and it motivated me to want to do something to help. But in the last couple years this response hasn’t sat well with me anymore.

A few years ago, I began asking myself this question, “Should the needs of society be the driving factor for why I do what I do?” Now, don’t get me wrong, I think understanding the issues of our day and feeling compelled to help is necessary. But should it be the infrastructure that grips my motivation and work in place? Will it last or as I’ve already seen within the public sector, will it lead to feeling overwhelmed and/or even cynical? I’ve been asking myself why I do what I do, and if you’re involved in any service to someone in need, this is a good question to be brewing in your mind too.

I believe the Scriptures show us a better reason to do what we do, and the “why” isn’t so much based on the need, or the doing, but the being. Needs and causes come and go. And in a world that’s forcefully turned against its Maker, the repercussions are incalculable. It’s no wonder many are frustrated with the government and politicians. We’re looking to human systems to be the primary solution to a God-size problem.

Working for the state, I’ve witnessed how overburdened the system really is. Society was never intended to bear the full weight of this mess. It can only be lifted by God.

So as a Christian, and as local churches across the islands, why do we get involved? Why provide food and services to the homeless? Why fight against human trafficking? What’s our basis for fostering and adopting? Why do we help those struggling with substance use, mental illnesses, and poverty? Why spend our lives teaching students who have special needs? Why get entangled in the messiness of policies in hopes to advocate for the overlooked and mistreated?

I believe an answer to the “why” is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. Paul proclaims these truths about us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” Did you catch that? A rescue mission has occurred. An identity change has happened. And a renewed purpose was given.

The primary reason we help anyone is firstly not about a cause, or a need, or even our sympathy, but it’s about who we are in our Leader and Savior Jesus. Remembering that we are new creations, with a redeemed purpose, diminishes feelings of resentment when it seems like no one else cares. It protects against cynicism, when the problem never appears to change.

We get involved in the messy predicaments of our islands and nation, because it’s who we are. We got a supernatural identity and calling. We’re “new creations” and “messengers of reconciliation” for God. And so, our “why” changes too. We help a person in need, because God has not just helped us, but rescued us. We try to provide relief to someone’s pain, because God has first healed and restored us from the deathliest of pains. We get our hands dirty with the filthiness of this world, not because we’re better, but the opposite. Because Jesus gave his life for all the disgusting, shameful, and wrong things we’ve committed in our lives.

And so, in a world that seems to be tearing apart at the seams, and trying to fix a problem it cannot rectify, Jesus says you’re the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” So why should you help those in need? It’s in your redeemed DNA. Your God’s “masterpiece” and “fellow coworker” sent out to continue the redeeming work he’s already started. It’s no longer just about the cause, or the need that drives us to do what we do, but we have a greater reason. We help, because it’s who we now are.

Here’s a few ways to get involved in your community: 1) Build relationships and looks for ways to help the neighbors living in your apartment, across the street, and the homeless person or family sleeping at the park. 2) Provide meals or transportation for someone who is sick or elderly. 3) Volunteer with our monthly homeless outreach called Kakaako Kakou (more info here). Lastly, if you’re interested in fighting against human trafficking, providing respite for foster and adoptive families, or mentoring a youth email me at mike@harborhawaii.org.