I’m originally from Todmorden in West Yorkshire and I was there with my family on Boxing Day when the town, along with others in the Calder Valley, was hit by floods with many friends and people I know being affected.
The community spirit which came out of the floods has been amazing, with people from all backgrounds and faiths coming together to provide help in many different ways. Breaking down barriers and building relationships which hopefully will continue to be built upon.
As well as people helping with floods locally, I also know lots of people who in recent months have been and continue to be involved with helping provide aid for refugees caught up in the current crisis both in Europe and further afield.
Both recently and throughout history people have asked the question, who should we help when we see troubles? Sshould we just help those who we know or offer help to strangers as well when we see them in need?
In one of his most well known parables, Jesus told a story of a stranger, the Good Samaritan, who came across someone in need and helped him, even though the injured man was someone who he would not normally have associated with and who may even have been hostile to him.
Following his telling of this parable Jesus told those who followed him to go and do the same.
This is just one example found in the stories of Jesus’ life in the Bible where we see Jesus showing, through words and actions, God’s love and care for people of all walks of life, even people we may disagree with or who are different from us and even those we may see as our enemies.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church summed up what it means to follow Jesus in a well known saying which says: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, all the ways you can,in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
How much better would our world be if more people chose to try to do that? If people didn’t ask whether we should help someone or not but just got on and did it in ways in which they were able.
Helping people can be done in many different ways, buying a tin to donate to the foodbank, adding items to collections for people in need overseas, putting some money in a charity box, offering a few hours help to a charitable organisation, sharing a smile or a friendly word are just a few of many.
In January we often make new years resolutions and decide to do things to change our lives for the better. Maybe this year a resolution to consider could be to look out for ways to make the lives of others better, no matter who or where they may be when we see need.
This may not always be easy to do but we can pray and ask God to help us to see the needs of others and to help where we can. Helping us to make our world a better place, both locally and globally by coming together and helping one another as Jesus set us the example and challenges us to do.