I'm seeing a smattering of my fellow believers using Matthew 6 to criticize the ALS ice bucket challenge:
Teaching about Almsgiving.
“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;a otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites* do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
I'm no theologian, no Scriptural expert and despite the fact that I've slept at a Holiday Inn Express numerous times, I'm not going to play one now.... however... my thinking on this begins with the notion that plucking a Scripture out of its context is problematic and particularly so here.
Isn't Matthew 6 about giving to the poor and destitute? The ice bucket challenge is about giving to research purposed in finding a cure to a devastating disease. I'm not seeing the connection though perhaps I'm being a tad too literal.
But if we're going to engage in Scriptural swordplay, I can't help but think of two more Scriptural references, beginning with Luke 18:
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Verse 11 being the verse that speaks loudest to me.
But let's go back to Matthew and particularly the Beatitudes and use Scripture in a way that seems to trumpet events like the ALS ice bucket challenge:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
Is the ice bucket challenge a good deed? Isn't a light being shone on it? I'm thinking the answer is yes to each question.
I'm seeing the concerns voiced by many that the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) uses embryonic stem cell research in the attempt to find a cure and that's a fair criticism. Thankfully there are alternatives to the ALSA and many, including myself, have taken advantage but that doesn't seem to be the gist of the criticism I'm seeing when the Matthew 6 verses are being bandied about.
There's lots in the culture we Christians need to be critical of. Lots. But there are also good things out there happening that we need to be encouraging, paricularly when the cause is so clearly positive.
I would, carefully, ask that those who are critical of the ice bucket challenge spend some time with a family having to deal with ALS.
I think an hour or two would do it.
This is, to me, a good cause. And if Jesus is willing to participate, I'm thinking we should all be willing: