There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn and every year he won the best-grown corn award. One day, a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how the farmer grew his corn. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are registering their corn into a competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”
This is not an easy thing to do even for a Christian. In a world where “winning” is everything and being number one is the standard unit, thinking about the other person does not come easily. In fact, right from pre-school, we are taught to compete in a win-lose situation. You outclass your classmates and out-manoeuver them. You win and everyone else loses. In adult life, people are going to great lengths to gain advantage of a situation – business rivalry leads to assassination, witchcraft and all manner of evil just to get that one deal; that extra million.
But from the farmer in the story above, we learn that one can accommodate others and still win in life. One can share their “seed” and still harvest the best corn in the neighbourhood. Giving does not diminish us; rather, it improves us; it makes us more productive while at the same time leaving everybody happy and satisfied.
As for Christians, helping others has a greater meaning. It means, in one sense, that the helper has “learnt” from the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised when he said he would “send a helper” who was to teach us everything. Therefore, one who helps others is one who has learnt everything from the Spirit of God. And the lesson, just as in the farmer’s story, is that those who want to live meaningfully and well must help to enrich the lives of others because the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
Last month, we celebrated Pentecost; the biggest occasion after Easter when Jesus fulfills his promise of “sending a helper” “the good counsellor” – the Holy Spirit of God. Hence we are called to remember the essence of helping others, and that’s the true meaning of living “in the Spirit” and as N.T Wright says in his book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, living in the Spirit (by helping others) creates a place where Heaven and Earth meet. This means creating a connection between the Father and Son in Heaven and the Spirit who dwells on Earth.
Helping others then is not only about easing the pain in others but also experiencing the Holy Trinity alive in us. This Pentecost season should serve to reawaken our “helping heart” so that we see the pain and need of others. I imagine how this could be heaven on earth if those who are blessed with a little more moved in to ease the struggles of the less fortunate. Each one of us, no matter how poor they might think they are, have something they can offer for none is so poor that they cannot find someone else to help. This way, the descent of the Holy Spirit shall be made alive and the Holy Spirit, who we cannot see or touch, will have been made manifest through our good actions.
Published June 2015