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Christian perspectives on personal, social and world issues Essay

There are two terms regarding poverty- Absolute poverty, which is when you do not have enough money, or food for your basic everyday needs. Relative poverty, which is when you cannot afford what, is seen as normal in a given society. There is also the term wealth, which is when you are rich with abundant possessions and money, you are prosperous. Most people in third world countries live in absolute poverty, while a large proportion of people who live in first world countries are wealthy.

Hunger is a feeling, which you have when you have not eaten for some time, 1/5th of the worlds population goes hungry. Disease is an unhealthy condition or an illness, which can lead to death and therefore disrupts a family’s ability to raise income (as there are fewer people in the family). Both hunger and disease are two main causes of death in today’s world, especially in third world countries. This is because developing third world countries are a lot poorer than first world countries so everyday necessities that are taken for granted such as clean, safe water, medicines and food as they are not so readily available (they cannot afford to provide them).

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For example millions of people die each year from drinking polluted water, this is mainly in third world or developing countries. Disease is a problem in third world countries because of the lack of technology and medicine available, and because the climate is so hot and there is no way of getting rid of rubbish so vermin are tempted bringing in diseases such as the plague.

There are also very few vaccinations available so millions of unvaccinated children die of diseases such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus, each year making third world countries have a very high death rate. In third world countries they tend to have a very large population of mainly young children, this is because parents want children so that they can start work at an early age and bring money in to the family. Contraception is also rarely available so many unwanted children are born. Unlike in first world countries where families choose to have children at a later date because more women prefer material possessions and like to have a decent amount of money before they bring up a family. There is a very high infant mortality rate in third world countries because of the contraception crisis as deadly diseases such as aids are easily passed onto children and the lack of food means that many die from hunger.

First world countries are somewhat different from third world countries- life expectancy is very high (there is a low death rate) as there is better technology available so there are more cures for diseases, which means that more people have a better chance of living to an older age. There are also vaccinations available so that the chance of catching a disease is decreased. Infant mortality rate is very low as mothers can choose when they want a family and can stop unwanted pregnancies by using a variety of contraceptive methods. People also have a higher disposable income so they can afford to spend more money on food etc- so it is very rare for people to die of starvation.

There are four myths about world hunger. These are:

> There is not enough food to go round.

> World hunger is caused by over- population.

> Starvation is the result of natural disasters.

> Science will be able to cure hunger.

The myth about there not being enough food to go around basically means that there is not enough food upon the earth to go around all of the people who live there. This is false because there is enough food to go around but it is not evenly distributed. There is more food in richer countries because people can afford to buy it, this means that people are prepared to make/grow food and sell it to richer countries so they can make money for themselves. People in developed countries also have more money so they want a more varied choice of food. Unfortunately poorer countries suffer, as there is never enough food to go around, as they do not have technology/tools to provide their own or the money to buy it. If people shared food instead of wasting it and eating more than they need to starvation would not be an issue.

World hunger being caused by over population means that there is too many people in the world today so food is becoming more scarce and some people cannot get hold of much. This is also false because there is enough food to go around but people in richer countries waste a lot of food as it is taken for granted. Although someone could argue that as the population increases more land is taken up to be built on which leaves less room for cattle grazing, growing crops etc so less food can be produced.

Starvation being the result of natural hazards means that due to natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes or drought food sources are being wiped out and so people of starving. This is also false because not every country has natural hazards and they definitely do not all have them at the same time. So, when a country is in crisis due to a natural hazard other countries should help them out and provide food for them. There is plenty of food in the world but by giving it to poorer countries it will mean that they will loose money. Someone could argue that natural hazards are a cause of starvation because poorer countries tend to have a lot of drought so it is hard to grow crops and graze animals on the poor soils. Also, countries are prone to flooding which drowns crops and animals so no food can be produced.

Science being able to cure world hunger means that in the future scientist could discover a new thing for example a new type of crop which could live in all conditions so it could grow in all countries. This myth could either be true or false because nobody can predict what science will be like and what new discoveries we will make. So perhaps in a few years will be able to produce a ‘super food’, which can grow in any conditions and feed thousands. Science costs money though, and this is what poor countries do not have so they will not be able to purchase whatever comes out. Countries affected by starvation could be waiting for years for a new discovery so in the mean time people will be dying from starvation.

So, Christians believe that if people in rich countries eat and waste less world hunger can be tackled. Christians also believe that God’s creation is good and everyone should be treated equally and have a chance to live a happy life- without being poverty stricken due to greedy people.

Here are some examples of the biblical teachings Christians follow on the teachings of hunger and disease: An example of greed is in some of the laws, which God told to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 24.14-22). He says:

‘When you beat the olives from the trees, do not go over the branches

a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless

and the widow’

‘When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines

again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow’

This proves that God does not want Christians to be greedy and shows that they should help others who are in need by sharing what they have. Another example of this is ‘the parable of the rich fool’ (Luke 12:16-21). A man produced a good crop and he did not have enough room to store it anywhere, so he wanted to build bigger barns. God punished him by demanding his life from him and he said ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God’. Christians should help others and instead of saving/storing things for themselves they should give them to other needy people- or God will not be happy and he will punish them. This shows that those who pile up riches for themselves are not rich in Gods view and that for someone to gain eternal life they must give and share.

Also in Deuteronomy 24.14-22 it says:

‘Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether or

not he be of thy brethren… for he is poor and setteth his heart upon it.’

Which means that people should not put poor and needy people down (even if they are below you, you should not look down on them) you should help them instead no matter who they are.

The teaching of ‘The fall’ in Genesis 3.1-19 is about temptation and it concludes why the world is the way it is today. ‘Serpents’ (snakes) were made to crawl on their ‘belly’ because the one in the story tempted Eve to eat the ‘forbidden fruit’. As Eve took the apple all women suffer pain when giving birth. Christians believe that people are made to suffer because of what happened in ‘The fall’.

In Genesis 1.26-31 (stewardship) Christians believe that God was the one who created the world and he created it in reflection of how he wanted people to behave in it (good). They believe that human beings should look after the world and his creations in it (that was their purpose of being on the earth), so they should not abuse or destroy it. He said that they ‘…will have power over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all of the earth, and over the creatures that move along the ground.’ But he did not want humans to take advantage of this.

The parable of the sheep and goats is also important because it is about people either going away to ‘eternal punishment’ or to ‘eternal life’. The separation of the sheep’s and the goats is relating to the separation of people who treat other people well (as Jesus did) and people who do not. Jesus says to the people who followed him (by treating people nicely):

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you

gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I

needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I

I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

To the people who did not follow his commands he says the same thing but changes it to a negative comment e.g. ‘For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat’. This explains that those who provided for the needy were blessed while those who turned their backs on the needy were cursed with eternal punishment. Which is why Christians feel that they have to help the needy.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is also important, this deals with the issue of who should be helped. It is about a man who is stripped of his clothes and beaten by robbers while he is on his way to Jerusalem. Both a Priest and a Levite (two well respected pillars of the Jewish religious community) walked on the other side of the road and passed by him. A Samaritan came (who were despised and hated) and took pity on him; he looked after him and took him to an Inn. This shows how one man suddenly put aside all his religious beliefs by going instantly to the aid of another man who was in pain and suffering.

In Corinthians 8:13-15 it says:

‘…At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that

in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be

equality.’

This means that you should treat others as you wish to be treated. So, when they are in need and you help them out, you may eventually be repaid by them returning the favor to help you out in times of need. This is another reason why Christians feel that it is important to help other people who are in need.

In Amos 8:4-10 there are references to the way which people should treat each other it says:

‘…you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land…

skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest

measure…”I will never forget anything they have done…I will turn

your religious feasts into mourning and all you singing into weeping.’

This means that to people who try and rip other people off by charging too much or giving them too little etc will be punished and God will never forget what they have done. The same message again comes across, that people should treat each other in the same way that they wish to be treated and they should not be greedy and try to make a little more money for themselves.

In John 13.34-35 Jesus says that you should ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ This is important because Jesus helped everyone who was in need regardless of their race or colour, he treated everybody equally and this is what Christians should do if they want to follow Jesus.

Christians believe that you should treat others as they wish to be treated. In Colossians 3:1-15 it says:

‘…whatever belongs to your earthly nature…evil desires and greed…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothes

yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’

This shows why Christians try and help other people who are not as well off as them. They feel that they are being greedy because they are living a life of luxury while people are starving in other countries struggling to feed their families. God wanted them to be kind and equal not greedy and selfish. They want to do as Jesus says so they should be kind and generous to other people who are in need. People should resist evil and discrimination by helping others who are in need.

Christian aid was set up in 1945 to help many Europeans who had been made homeless by the Second World War. The churches collected �1 million for this work and by 1948 they decided to collect money for the people in the third world too. In September 1945 it officially became Christian Aid, a department of the British council of churches (all the non- Roman Catholic Churches). Christian Aid believes that ‘…God’s new strategy for a new world is to put the poorest first.’ So it provides help for poor people in less economically developed countries (LEDC’s). Christian Aid works wherever the need is greatest, irrespective of religion.

It supports local organisations, which are best placed to understand local needs, as well as giving help on the ground through 16 overseas offices. Christian Aid believes in strengthening people to find their own solutions to the problems they face. It strives for a new world transformed by an end to poverty and campaigns to change the rules that keep people poor. They believe that all people were made in God’s image so they are all equal and they should be treated equally. Christian Aid wants to give poverty stricken people the chance to live equally and happily like other people in the world, they want to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless.

Christian Aid now works in over sixty countries making many poor/homeless peoples life better, by giving both emergency aid and long term assistance to try and battle against poverty. They try and do this by fundraising- Christian Aid needs money to help relieve poverty. Christian Aid has set up a ‘Christian Aid week’, which runs in May each year. This has proven to be very successful because in 1995 alone they raised �8.6 million. Many churches and individuals also contribute by having fund-raising events throughout the year- these tend to raise approximately three times as much as Christian Aid week, so again these are very successful.

Christian Aid also supports campaigns to help try and improve the poverty in LEDC’s. An example of this was in April 1995 when they launched their first photo petition in aid of trying to ‘drop’ Jamaica’s debt. This campaign had a lot of interest from many famous people, for example Richard Wilson and Michelle Gayle. So, this is again another successful appeal from Christian Aid.

The emergency aid that Christian Aid does covers a wide range of things and it usually has priority over long-term aid because without it people would die. Christian Aid spends between 10% and 15% on it funds each year on this. It has a disaster fund which deals with natural disasters and refugees. Christian Aid sends food, antibiotics and shelters to people who need them in an emergency. Two examples of this were the flood victims in Bangladesh in 1995, and they also sent tents and food to war refugees in Bosnia and Rwanda. In the Christian Aid statement of intent it says that they want to ‘…improve our response to emergencies and work to prevent them.’ which shows that more can still be done to help people but they need more support and funds.

Christian Aid also provides long-term aid for poverty stricken people, towns or villages. Much of Christian Aid’s long and short-term aid is channelled through Christian organisations in the country concerned. They have done many things to help people, examples of this are: They are funding a group of health workers who have built a factory to make basic drugs in Bangladesh (as they cannot afford to import them). This will enable the people of Bangladesh to have easy access to the drugs hopefully saving lives. In Lesotho Christian Aid is financing a local agricultural school to try and reduce soil erosion to increase food production. This will enable people to eat more and sell more food- increasing their profits.

Only about 5% of Christian Aid’s budget is spent on educating people about the way Christians can help LEDC’s and educate Churches of Britain about the desperate need for development. A newspaper is printed four times a year called the ‘Christian Aid news’. Which gives information about Christian Aids latest developments and world developments. Bob Finley, chairman of Christian Aid has now completed 53 years of ministry as an evangelist, pastor, missionary, Bible teacher and Christian statesman.

In the Christian Aid statement of intent it says that they want to give people the chance ‘…to make a difference.’ And they want to help women because they ‘…are often the poorest of the poor’. This shows that they are not prejudice in any way and they treat all people equally. Christian Aid has brought many people together (mainly Christians) to help fight the battle of poverty and disease which many people struggle with, all of their plans and quick responses show just how much they respect other people and the lengths they will go to, to follow Gods will. Christian Aid is proving to be successful because in 1959 its income was �483,000 and in 1997 it was �39.3 million, this is a massive increase over only 38 years which shows that a lot of people are getting involved.

‘Christians are responsible for each other- no mater where in the world they live’. I disagree with this statement mainly because I am not a Christian and I do not think that it is possible to be responsible for someone who you do not know and who lives so far away. I think that in today’s world the average person (like me) cannot do much to help anyone else. I think this because there is too much pressure on you to find money for yourself, as there is a dramatic increase in unemployment rates and in the amount of people below the average income line. In today’s world it is a struggle sometimes to look after yourself and your family never mind people that you do not know and have never met.

However, I do think that people in more power (such as the government) should do more to help poverty-stricken people in other countries to a certain extent. I say to a certain extent because only so much money should be spent on them as countries have their own problems to sort out- such as the NHS crisis in the United Kingdom. I do not think that poverty-stricken people should just be given money though, as this is only a short-term answer. I think that governments should get to the root of the problem and work from there. For example instead of providing food for people to eat they should provide seeds and tools so that they can grow their own and let them live more independently.

A Christian would have a different point of view though because they believe that they should do all that is possible to help others as that is what God told them to do. They are ‘Brothers and sisters in Christ’ so they are like brothers and sisters in the family of God. In Colossians 3.11 it says:

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian,

Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

Which shows that they believe that the church is a universal organisation therefore all of the Christians in it share the same beliefs so they should be treated the same. The Christian beliefs is what unites them all (“Held everything in common”)so they should help and care for one another, in the same way that Jesus did not mind who he healed or helped.

All of the biblical teachings, which I wrote about above, prove this as this as Christians follow God and the teachings that I wrote about described how God wants Christians to behave around other people. Christians should share- in acts 4:32-35 it says:

‘All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that

any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…

There were no needy persons among them.’

This shows that everyone should share so that everyone is treated equally and no one is different. The parable of the rich fool and God’s commandments about harvesting the grapes and beating the olives from the trees proves that Christians should only take what they need and save the rest for other people. This is not always possible though so Christians find other ways of helping others out- by giving donations to programs such as Christian Aid. I think that Jesus concluded what happens to greedy people in Luke 12:16-21 by saying:

‘This is how it is with those who pile up the riches for themselves but

are not rich in God’s sight.’

As the ‘rich man’ had to ‘…give up’ his life for being greedy and selfish and no Christians want to be like he was.

In the 2 Corinthians 8.13-15 Paul commends the Corinthian Christians for their willingness to give money to help the Jerusalem Christians. This is today’s equivalent of Christians giving money to other needy people in other countries, they believe that God will commend them for it when they die and go to Heaven. So, this is why Christians believe that ‘they are responsible for each other- no matter where in the world they live.’

Christians believe that people were created in reflection of God, therefore we were all created equally and good. So, people should treat the more unfortunate of us the same as they believe that it is what God wanted. Christians would not just help other Christians, they believe that as we were all created the same we all have the right to live the same kinds of lives instead of everyday being a battle to survive. They believe that they should not be greedy therefore people in richer countries should only take the amount of food they need and they should not waste any so there is enough to go around everyone.

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