With PNG in the world news for what could be said are all the wrong reasons, I thought a comment from within may help to put things in context.
Sectors of the Australian political scene and media outlets are raising questions about providing financial aid to a country where wasteful spending appears to be the norm. APEC expenditure is just one issue, but it is a big enough issue to make a splash on the world stage and generate plenty of digital headlines.
Here within PNG, it is an issue being discussed at bus stops, in store queues, and over the counter at hardware stores. Many people are upset, confused, and generally frustrated at the divide between the have’s and the have not’s. In a society where many of the 8.25 million population struggle to obtain adequate health and education services, such a public display of affluence makes disturbing reading.
As debate continues over the reality of this particular expense being carried by the public purse or by private interests, the answer makes little difference in the minds of those caught up in the poverty struggle. The fact that someone, somewhere in the world, thinks it normal to enjoy a luxury vehicle that could feed, educate and care for an entire family in PNG for at least 15 years tends to run around your head for a bit, and gnaw at your heart.
However, perhaps surprisingly, Jesus put his fellow guests in their place when they were critical of the woman who came into a gathering and anointed him with expensive perfume, sighting wasteful spending that could have benefited the poor.
“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:6-7 ESV)
So how should we respond to waste and apparent apathy towards the needy? Jesus tells us to look inwardly, and to look to him.
Why are outside interests troubled by this? Are they heavy-hearted at the plight of the poor in PNG, or incensed that people with money waste it in a way that they certainly wouldn’t …… “Now, if I had $250,000 to spare…..”
In his gospel account of this event, Mark includes the statement, “whenever you want, you can do good for (the poor)”. So if you see someone in poverty and think “I don’t like it!”, great….. there is an opportunity for you to act.
So what form should this action take? The woman chose to honour Jesus with the best that she had…. equivalent to a year’s wages. Now, it’s between you and God what your best is, be it a care package as Christmas approaches, or regularly helping out at a soup kitchen , or making a life choice to shift from consumer to servant.
If you come to that decision point, Jesus says “Do it… now.” You may not have the opportunity again.
Next blog….. Hand’s wide open