Somewhere in the world, a child dies from hunger every 15 seconds. 1 in 8 men, women and children go to bed hungry every night. 165 million children are so malnourished by the age of 2 that their minds and bodies will never fully develop. In a world where there is enough food for everyone, this is an unspeakable scandal. We must weep with those who weep, and then get up and do something.
The Enough food for everyone IF campaign was set up by 200 organisations to highlight our responsibility as a nation towards the hungry millions in the run-up to this week’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland, at which David Cameron has put the issue firmly on the agenda.
The IF campaign has prepared a carefully-though-out action plan for addressing food inequalities. The plan includes strategies to provide aid, to ensure that big businesses do not avoid paying tax in developing countries, to deal with the issue of vast tracts of land being sold for the production of biofuels rather than food for local people.
Ethics in business is one of the issues covered in a fascinating article by George Pitcher in a recent issue of the New Statesman about new attitudes to business among Christians in the City of London.
An older generation of Christians felt it was enough to run your business ethically, and to make charitable donations from the profits. In contrast, many Christians in business today are realising that business shapes the world in a way which religion once did. Therefore as Manoj Raithatha a property entrepreneur quoted in Pitcher’s article says, being in business is about ‘more than being ethical. It’s about having a spiritual impact, encouraging Christians to think what impact their business is going to have.’
In Raithatha’s view, lots of Christians in the workplace are ‘still living the sacred/secular divide.’ By this he means that those he speaks of are living compartmentalised lives. There’s a holy, God-focussed part. But in the rest of their living they are pretty much indistinguishable from everyone else.
Where this is the case, it is so wrong. Being Christian is not about holding certain beliefs intellectually – Christianity, where it is genuine, affects every aspect of our being.
A vivid phrase used in Pitcher’s article is ‘skin in the game.’ This refers to executives who buy in to the company they work for, investing their own money in it. They are personally on board. They have ‘skin in the game.’
It’s a powerful phrase which resonates with us as Christians. God does stand not remote from Creation. God came among us, in Jesus. God has skin in the game.
And Jesus emphasised the need for holistic, non-compartmentalised Christianity, teaching not just spiritual transformation, but whole-life transformation. When he said that through his coming among us ‘captives will be released…the blind will see…the oppressed will be set free’ he was thinking physical as well as spiritual.
And Jesus expected his followers to have the same approach in not only preaching, but feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned. Jesus identifies so closely with people in those situations that to help them is to serve him.
Faith is therefore not about escaping from the world, about protecting the flickering candle of our faith from the gusting wind of challenge. It is about transforming the world, and seeing the flame burn more brightly as we do so.
And what the business people George Pitcher writes about have grasped is firstly that organisations need saved as much as individuals, and secondly that Christianity transforms. It is, in the view of those Pitcher interviewed, ‘disruptive of systemic greed and corruption.’
Organisations, political parties, whole nations are best transformed not by legal controls (though these are necessary) but by the awakening and transformation of the people within them until the whole spirit of the organisation is reborn.
Pitcher’s London city folk seem remote from our experience. But we all have skin in the game of live. We all can work for change – in our workplace or office or school, in the campaigns we support (like IF) – bringing transformation and supporting those who ache for transformation. Living the change. Being the change. One prayer at a time, one conversation at a time, one Tweet at a time, one loving action at a time.
And we wait and long for and work for the coming of the kingdom, when there is no corruption, no greed, where there is justice and peace and equity. Where there is enough food for everyone, and everyone has enough.
And as we wait, Christ comes to us in the 1-in-8 who sleep hungry. We are Christ’s skin in the game.
(Christian Viewpoint column from the Highland News dated 20th June 2013)