The ALS ice bucket challenge has taken the Internet by storm.
I think it’s a good deed being done by people with good intentions. We are experiencing a lot of hate and violence in our world at this moment, so I want to give thanks for the simplicity of people dumping water on their heads and donating to a disease that is one of America’s least funded in terms of research.
I am no more offended by people dumping water on their heads than I am by people wearing pink, yellow, blue, red, orange, purple or whatever color of the rainbow ribbons on their shirts.
I am no more offended by people changing their profile pictures to represent a cause they believe in, even if they are just jumping on the bandwagon.
Christians in general are an interesting group though. Some are as quick to condemn a football player praying publicly as they are to videotape themselves amid an extravagant form of piety and almsgiving.
Others are as quick to announce what they’re giving up for Lent, as they are quick to denounce the wasteful dumping of ice-cold water.
One would think, of all the people in the world, that Christians would be able to accept imperfect goodness. Yet, it seems we are incapable of letting goodness be goodness.
Instead, we critique every single good deed from a theological perspective because we are unable to just let it be.
As the ALS challenge has grown in popularity, Christian responses on social media have taught me that goodness short of perfection is not welcomed.
Every good we do is not good enough and someone has to point that out, so why not Christians?
We gladly talk about the waste of water on ice bucket challenges while wasting water in the shower.
We talk about the lack of food in other places while tossing away our table scraps.
We post articles about the problems of racism then go and worship every Sunday in the most segregated place in America with people of the exact same skin tone.
Regarding worship as Christian character formation, Anglican minister Samuel Wells writes, “Worship is a habit, but like all good habits, one that comes about through moral effort.”
If people pouring ice-cold water over their heads is a moral effort, then it is a form of worship. Are we really ones that should criticize someone’s act of worship?
Should our response be like the disciples and tell them to stop because they aren’t with us or worshiping like us?
Jesus responded to that response by saying, “Don’t stop them, for if someone isn’t opposed to you, they are for you” (see Mark 9:38-41).
Perhaps then, understanding that this craze may be seen as a form of worship by some of the participants, we would be better served to encourage them to go and do more good.
We should encourage the millions that have dumped water to use that same energy to do good in their community by standing with the poor, the oppressed, the minority, the outcast, the immigrant, the lonely, the hurting, the young, the old, the widowed and the orphaned.
Imagine what good we could do if we encouraged do-gooders to do more instead of criticizing the good they are doing?
I’m learning how to be a better encourager. I am learning how to lift up those who have donated and use their energy to do more good in my community, which is affected by poverty.
I am confident that’s what worship does. It celebrates the good we are doing and challenges us to do more good.
Joe Kendrick is the senior pastor at Bruington Baptist Church in Bruington, Virginia. A longer version of this article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @majorfury99.
Joe Kendrick serves as Associate Pastor for Youth and Community Engagement at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.