August 25, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge (Living Water Style)

Are you into social media? If so, then you are surely well aware of the “ice bucket challenge” that is sweeping the nation. Have you seen it? All sorts of people – celebrities and mere mortals alike – are filming themselves getting a bucket full of ice water dumped over their heads, and then posting the videos on Twitter, Facebook, and so on. It’s a good thing it’s all happening in summer, huh?

The point? To raise awareness of and money toward the research of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The deal is you dump the ice water on yourself, send out the footage via social media … and, at the end of your video, you challenge someone else in your circle to do the same. The person challenged can either dump the ice water over their own head, or make a monetary donation to ALS research (or, in the ideal scenario, do both!).

So have you done it? Has anyone challenged you yet? Alas, I am not on Facebook or Twitter … and so I’ve not been put to the test! And I must confess that I have mixed feelings about it. Raising money to help those with a disease like ALS fits quite well with the Christian command to love our neighbors, and to care for their needs (although see my cautionary footnote* re: embryonic stem cell research). And having fun with it is not necessarily a bad thing either. One article I saw, though, called the whole thing “self-promotion.” And that got me thinking. I am sure that, in some cases, the accusation is true. In others, it may be a little bit of a harsh generalization. But it reminded me to remember well Jesus’ command not to toot our own horns when we give charitably (Matthew 6.1-4). You’ll have to think it out for yourself. Maybe there is a way to do the ice bucket challenge and still obey Jesus’ command about giving discretely. But if you can’t figure one out, there’s certainly nothing wrong with giving to charity without participating in the social media aspect of it!

But, as I think about the ice bucket challenge, it also makes me want to issue another challenge, along similar lines. Isn’t it amazing how so many people will go out of their way to promote something like ALS research? I have no doubt that the number includes Christians and Atheists, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Mormons, and every stripe of person in between. And I’m glad for this! But I must also say to my Christian brothers and sisters that, if the world can be so intentional about ALS research … shouldn’t we who know the Great Physician of souls be even more intentional about making people aware of Him? And if we are on social media – and have dozens (some of us maybe hundreds) of people looking at our various posts – shouldn’t we take advantage?

So here’s my challenge to all of you who are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on: Will you make the effort, at least once a week, to put some clear gospel testimony out for all your friends and followers to see? Maybe it will be a poignant verse of scripture. Maybe a link to a particularly helpful online sermon or article. Maybe a great quote from a Christian book you are reading. Maybe even a video of you speaking for 2-3 minutes about why you love and trust Jesus! After all, if people will spend 45 seconds watching someone get a bucket of ice poured over their head … maybe they’ll watch you as you speak passionately about what matters to you most!

So there’s my challenge. Get on social media and make much of the living water … which is the cure for what ails mankind the most!

(And if you’re not on social media, old fashioned cards, letters, tracts, books, and personal conversations are still acceptable forms of gospel witness, too!)

*It should be noted that not all medical research is created ethically equal.  The Family Research Council points out that money being donated to ALS research raises a concern because some ALS researchers use embryonic stem cells (derived from aborted fetuses) in their work.  For a word about this, and links to groups that are researching ALS using adult stem cells, click here.

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