Weekly Blog - Catherine Beaumont - Rather, He Made Himself Nothing
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Posted on: 8th September 2022

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Beveridge report and the beginning of the welfare state as we have known it. 1942 also saw the publication of William Temple’s Christianity and Social Order (it was Temple who coined the term ‘Welfare State’).

In our 21st C context, 13 years of austerity, Brexit, a pandemic, and a cost-of-living crisis, have highlighted the inadequacies and inequalities of our health and social care systems just as two world wars had done by 1942.

Some claim that the Welfare state made us lazy and too willing to relinquish responsibility for individual and community wellbeing. Beveridge was keen that responsible citizenship would not be stifled under his plans and Temple’s report stressed the right and duty of the Church to work towards social reform. [1]

Both state-led care and private voluntary action are founded on the principle of surplus: The state redistributes surplus money through taxation, and the voluntary sector encourages people to give surplus time. This could be why funds and volunteers are so hard to attract at the moment, as many people are on lower incomes and consequently have less free time.

Giving out of surplus is a relatively pain free way of helping those in need and most of us could give more: The clothes in my wardrobe I never wear; the bicycle in my shed ready for when I have the time/energy to take up cycling again; the food I throw away because I bought more than I can eat.

As Christians we are called to give from our surplus (Luke 3:11) but also to give sacrificially i.e., to give until it hurts. Our model is Jesus Himself who gave everything he had, even his life.

Imagine the radical new systems we could implement if we were to follow the example of Jesus as laid out in Philippians 2:5-8


In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Catherine Beaumont, Manager, Leeds Christian Community trust

[1] Crucible, The Journal of Christian Social Ethics. July 2022

authorNetwork Leeds

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