When Jesus speaks of giving to the needy, prayer and fasting in Matthew 6, he touches on some of the pillars that people aspire to stand by when they talk about religion. While there are many shades that these practices can look like, and many forms that they can take, it’s no question that Jesus asks us – you and me – to be a part of this bigger-than-ourselves role.
Do you then need to be religious to do good in the world, in society, or in the community where you are? Not really. The basis on which different people do good is different. What is Jesus really pointing the Christian to when he goes on saying “your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”? The emphasis here is not to look to what one may achieve, or gain from doing good, but to in fact to take oneself out of the picture entirely. This idea of selflessness is one that may drive a person, or a group, or even an organization to do meaningful work that impacts and improves people’s lives. It is indeed wonderful that human beings are inherently good, and that good can in fact be done by many a people everywhere. What difference does it make then if one person shares the same kind of selflessness that Jesus commands of the Christian but does not profess the faith. This question resembles a sort of philosophical black hole: how one believes the faith and the other does not. It becomes hard to see into the sensibility of the other person and make sense of intentions that one may have in doing.
Placing the verses of Matthew 6 in context of the bigger picture might offer the much-needed insight when questioning the reason behind doing something. While it is important to try to rationalize oneself to a belief, faith hardly qualifies as a matter of reason. Faith doesn’t come to man as a command from God but by and through the working of the Holy Spirit and in its very essence, a yielding to God, and letting Him be the ruler, the cause, and reason of your life. Blaise Pascal’s rationale to believe in God was that it was safer to choose faith than not to. While this may be trivial, true faith doesn’t show its fruits
For now, here on earth, we are just bordering the event horizon – barely peeking into the details as we try to understand the revelations this inquiry may lead us to. Looking into the Bible will offer some balm to the soul. Others before us have also thought of these questions before. However, looking to God and not to the self is the substance of faith, the source of peace, and joy, and hope and promise. One thing remains – and this is that: among other “rewards in heaven” God promises are eternal.