Friday, December 15, 2006

Food for thought - Secret Millionaire

A multi-millionaire disguises himself and goes out to live among the poor and needy with a view to giving away some of his money to those whom he feels are really in need. That’s the basic premise of Channel 4’s ‘Secret Millionaire’.

I caught last week’s show with Durham businessman John Elliott who made his fortune after a childhood of poverty. What a fascinating programme. Elliott himself had to get by on the standard state benefit for the duration. He proved that he was quite capable of looking after himself and shopping in the cheaper section of the supermarket. But it was the people he spoke to who proved the most interesting.

There was the man in the pub who talked about why he didn’t see any need to get a job, he could just about get by on the dole – so why should he bother working. There were the bingo playing ladies whom he sat amongst and who felt that they were happy enough with what they had.

I watched it thinking, “Oh how some of these people will kick themselves when they find out the truth.”

Then there was the young couple who had gotten themselves into debt. They knew it was their fault, and were working at clearing their debt. All the same they invited John Elliott in for a meal, and shared what they had with him. They had no idea who they were entertaining.

He also met Patrick from Kenya who had been granted asylum status and was unable to get a job, but continued to volunteer at a centre for other asylum seekers.

Then came the moment of revelation, when Elliott returned and revealed who he really was, and handed over a cheque to the couple for £10,000 – not to clear their debts, but as a down payment on a house. And to Patrick he gave no money, but an offer of a job as an accountant in his factory.

As I watched the programme I wondered what those who had appeared earlier were now thinking, as they saw the opportunity they had missed.

The parallels with our own lives are sobering. A secret saviour is amongst us. He has the wherewithal to radically transform our lives. However most people think that they are doing ok – what do they need anything extra for?

How different it will be when He reveals himself to us, and we see him for who He is. How many will rue that day, and be kicking themselves for the opportunity missed?

Of course it’s not that Jesus offers ‘extra’ in this life – that’s where the difference is with ‘Secret Millionaire’. Jesus offers something that is essential – that he will clear our debt with God for our ; otherwise we will spend eternity paying it off ourselves.

At Christmas we are apt to remember Jesus’ first coming in the same homely way that the citizens of Kensington, Liverpool, greeted John Elliott – nice to see him, and friendly towards him. It was only when he came a second time, and it was too late that they realised who he was. Will it be the same for you – will you realise too late who Jesus is?

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