Thursday, August 21, 2014

The ALS Challenge

The ALS challenge is to dump ice water on your head and post it on social media to promote donations to the charity. It is quite the understatement to say it has gone viral. Everyone is doing it and posting video.

They’re getting it wrong. The challenge is to donate money or dump ice water on your head. If you dump ice water, take a video, and post it, you’re telling the world you’re a piker, a chiseler, a miser—you didn’t donate.

A friend told me that actually the challenge is to give $100 and the failure to give that sum meant the ice water. Also, that many people are doing both. Another friend said that ALS has received $5 million dollars from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Is that actual cash-in-hand or pledges?

Nevertheless, there’s something deeper about the challenge—a greater issue—to look at, especially for Christians.

Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before others, to be seen by them … when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by people … when you give to the needy, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your giving may be done in secret ….” (From the Sermon on the Mount.)

Let’s update for technology. Do not show off your charity with cell phone videos, as hypocrites do via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, to be admired by your friends. When you give to the needy, do not let your cell phone record what your hands are doing, so that your giving may be done in secret. That way the God you believe in will reward you.

How about it, Christians? Is it time to hit the delete key?

Really, why are you doing it? To be popular? If the trend hadn’t gone viral, you couldn’t care less? You have to join the crowd? Everyone’s doing it, right?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.”

Does anyone know what research ALS will do with the money? What are you funding? Does it contradict your values if they are conducting research with embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Have you done your homework?

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”


I am neither, but I won’t jump on a bandwagon before I think through the action and issues to decide if it is right for me. Sorry to spoil your fun, but my challenge (I can’t resist the irony) is that you do so before accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge.