As Christians, we have a responsibility to alleviate suffering especially amongst our own Christian brothers and sisters, who are in need.

In the story Jesus told about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:40 KJ), one word is consistently overlooked: brethren. Jesus only calls his own children, brethren. It isn’t a word he uses with unbelievers. So Jesus is addressing believers, telling us to care for each other. This story is often used to encourage us to support the unknown poor and needy overseas. While it isn’t wrong to use this story in a wider context, in its original setting it’s about helping and supporting the Christians we know and fellowship with.

For some reason I’m often a lot more comfortable helping people I don’t know, people who live a long way away that I will never know. I can send money or goods and feel better because I’ve done something for someone else, yet I’ve not engaged emotionally with these people.

Surprisingly this was also a problem for Pollyanna, the much-loved-storybook character, who always looked for something to be glad about, whatever the situation. Pollyanna had a difficult life even prior to the death of her parents. Her father had been a missionary and relied on the generosity of churches sending missionary barrels to them. Following the death of her father, Pollyanna went to live with her wealthy aunt.

In the course of time she became aware of the plight of an orphan boy who lived in the same town, so she decided to tell the “Ladies Aiders” (a group of Christian women from her church). Pollyanna knew from personal experience how willing these Christian women were to help orphans who lived elsewhere and believed they would help this boy, too. To her great disappointment and confusion they were not willing to help.

It makes me wonder what need is on my door step that I consistently overlook?