I fixed a game of Operation a few weeks ago. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, considering I’m risk averse and have the DIY ability of a wheelie bin. Armed only with a bottle of vinegar and some cotton buds, I soon had the patient’s nose buzzing and flashing as nature intended, but let’s not kid ourselves, the real repairs were to my ego.
Then, on my commute to work this morning, I listened to a TED Talk by Paul Pholeros, who spoke on an initiative to reduce illness among Aboriginal communities. Their greatest discovery? Get a team of volunteers to go around fixing showers, something that’s not as straight-forward as you. think when talking about areas with high levels of poverty. And even though, on the surface of it, this has nothing to do with a Bible Blog, here I am writing this post.
The themes of healing and restoration weave their way through the Bible like a strand of DNA. Too often we think of them purely in spiritual or apocalyptic terms, but maybe there’s something else going on here, something that intersects with another of those themes that we don’t quite know what to do with, service to the poor. We live in a world of planned obsolescence, where we’re forced to upgrade every five seconds. Go bigger, go better, don’t even think about saving some money by holding on to the old model ‘cos it’s going to fall apart. That’s the technological ecosystem in which we live.
And because we live in the middle of it, we don’t stop to think how this impacts on poverty, on health, on the environment. Yet Christians are called to godly stewardship of the resources around us, and maybe that looks more like fixing someone’s toilet on a sinkhole estate than buying a new amp for church. Maybe finding a way around the Sophie’s Choice of getting the car fixed or buying something to eat can be a beautiful witness, the Kingdom of God battling poverty armed only with a new set of spark plugs.
See, our churches must be full of practical skills – electricians, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, IT geeks – and we should see them as gifts from God, not just for the upkeep of our buildings, but also, potentially, of our communities. In a way it’s an extension of our call to serve those around us – love our neighbour, yes, but could we also fix their kettle? This Wired article talks about how a new ‘Fixer’ movement is helping neighbourhoods across America – how can the skills and resources and compassion of our congregations support this?
I was going to track down a Bible verse to hang this on, maybe something from the depths of Proverbs, but I realised I didn’t need to – it’s part of a bunch of wider conversations about doing church, about service, stewardship, poverty, gifting, discipleship, mission and love. Not everyone’s gifted to take on this mission field, but we could pray for and empower those who are. And sure, I may be talking nonsense, but the more conversations we have about what the church could look like the better.
Too many people out there see the church as carrying a sword. Maybe it ‘s time to beat those swords into screwdrivers.