Why Jesus Would Accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge~

I had no idea what the ice bucket Facebook posts were all about (just hadn’t taken the time to pay much attention to them or watch any.) Until my kiddos were tagged in one as nominees. 

The kids, Phil, and I watched three little kids standing in a tub, ages 9, 8, and 5, talking about ALS.  Then the count down by the parents, the icy water (the littlest guy was wearing a bicycle helmet~ which made this video like 10x cooler), and finally the screams and laughing. 

But it wasn’t just a random act of crazy.
Or an altruistic video of another family succumbing to social media peer pressure. 

The parents took the time to talk ALS with the kids.
Each of the children donated their own money to ALS.
And the parents matched their donation to another charity (for MS). 

In between all that good parenting and using a social media craze to educate themselves and their kids, the video grabbed my attention, too.  (Of course, because I was tagged in it.) 

Up until that tag, ALS was not on my charity radar as far as giving money.
That is not to say we didn’t know about the disease or have an idea of how it affects others.  My kids can tell you more about past Yankee’s players than a sportscaster on ESPN…so, Lou Gehrig’s name is in our normal conversations more times than the word “tastykake.”  Which, for two little kids, might be slightly abnormal.  But, it is true.

The reality is that I would not have donated to ALS without this (stupid, annoying, Facebook-feed-hungry…call it what you want) ice bucket challenge.  But we did donate~ and we soaked the kids.  Why the hell not?  We’ve never had a great excuse to take them in the backyard and pour ice all over them. 

The ice bucket challenge was on my radar at this point, so I started seeing the ALS Ice Bucket Backlash. I read lots of articles from both sides of the argument (even got side-tracked into medical journal reading about embryonic stem cell research*).  And if you ever want to get really pissed off at 230am, look up lots of anti-ice-bucket-challenge hashtags on Facebook.  (See #2)

From what I can tell, the arguments against the challenge come on two different levels:

1.  People who have family ties to this disease (loved ones have died because of it) who are offended at the fundraising’s concept (donate, but if you don’t want to, dump water on yourself and video tape it) and the blind participation by some people who just want to join a social media activism craze (but who really don’t know and don’t care about ALS). 

These concerns are real and absolutely warranted~ and yes, there probably is a (much) better structure for this type of fundraising/raising awareness… but, because we aren’t there yet, intelligent people will recognize that this ice bucket challenge is making a huge-HUGE- difference for ALS research funding this year. We all need to consider the perspective of the people closest to this disease, though.  And, at least from the articles I read, they are leary of the means, but thankful for the end result.

2.  Then there are the people who backlash every social media craze.  These are the hastaggers that had my blood boiling last night.  Because they can’t see the forest for the trees.  And the worst part about it?  Many of them are my brothers/sisters in Christ. 

They site things like~

No one knows why they are pouring water on themselves; it is a peer pressure/popularity thing (which makes this morally wrong).

Wet T-shirts never looked so holy.

What about the kids in Africa who don’t have clean water while you waste yours.

What about other causes and issues right now that you are NOT so aggressively raising awareness for? (that one usually has a political slant on it, FYI)

And my favorite and most moronic one of all:  Only give to the causes that have the highest rates of diagnosis. 

I can’t finish this post up without quickly addressing all of these. 

While I agree that if a person’s motivation by participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge (and even donating) is to gain popularity, it is not a “charitable” act by definition.  However, if I had ALS or, worse, one of my kids or my husband, I’d be happy to put up with the clueless, peer-pressure failures in order to raise both the money and awareness that has been built up in July and August for ALS. There is never, ever, ever going to be a perfect way for everyone in the world to be charitable without some heart issues being askew in that endeavor.  Someone might be donating while shining the spotlight on that contribution.  Let’s side with the many who AREN’T and who talk to their kids about ALS and who donate quietly on their laptop at work and who post a video and who care about sick people

because they are doing what Jesus’ whole life was about: Caring for the LEAST of these. 

The ice bucket challenge by nature is silly and ridiculous.  And sure, it clogs your facebook feed with stupid videos of people in wet clothing.  Chances are, you watch none of them (until you are tagged).  Here is the thing: page views on the ALS Association’s site were up 8500% during the first 17 days of August.  You might only appreciate this stat if you have an online shop or blog—so, let me clue you in.  That is INSANE.  If some act of abnormal behavior gained an organization a small increase in awareness, most people would say that might just be worth it (i.e., a marathon in high heels, a three day walk, etc.)…but to create a national wave of awareness around a disease that literally affects only two in every 100,000 people by taking 30 seconds to dump water on yourself or your kids?  Let’s call a spade a spade:  it is easy, and it is working.

The kids who don’t have clean drinking water argument:  when you find a way to get the water that would have been in your bucket for the challenge all the way to kids in third world countries, skip the challenge and do that.  I agree, that would be a better immediate use of your water (but still donate to ALS).  Also, remember to include the water in your third cup of coffee, your dishwasher, the kiddie pool in your backyard, your sprinkler system, and your daily shower. 

I can’t even address the “what about other causes…there are lots of other diseases, you know?” or “rates of highest diagnosis” arguments.  Mother Theresa put my colorful thoughts into profound prose:

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

Also, read Jesus in Luke 10:25-37.

You don’t need to choose ALL the charities at once… and you really don’t need to cleverly pull hairs and preach from your legalistic soapbox about who is deserving of your attention.  Starting small and close works best.  If your tagged in the ALS challenge, I can’t imagine a more in-your-face opportunity to do something worth while today. 

If this was all the rage in the first century, and John the Baptist did the ice bucket challenge (because you know he would) and nominated Jesus, would He participate? 

I think so.

Jesus' death and resurrection are crucial and at the forefront of his work~ but He lived and ministered on earth, too.  He did not come to just die for my sins.  He lived.  He laughed.  He taught.  He served.  He is subversive and revolutionary in His approach to everything religious. 

The first time he stated His life mission he said this: 

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

And then He spent his whole ministry in the trenches,
alongside people who didn’t have a clue…
His closest friends and followers were often like the people dumping water
On their heads, but who know nothing about the reason why.
Jesus always worked beauty through the broken down places in his relationships, culture, and society. 
All the time,
giving us Kingdom glimpses of
what perfect justice and love and wisdom looks like.

We won’t get there~ to the perfection place, I mean. 
Not in this lifetime.
But I believe that God works in things that go viral.
He works in the unseen places, too.
Unfortunately, I think church people can at times really muddy-up those places
With intentions that stem from a selective form of following Christ.
If you are going to follow Jesus,
You need to live for all the things He lived for.
I think He would always choose the justice act
Whether that takes the form of dumping water on your head and donating to ALS
Or treating illegal immigrants with grace, love, and understanding
Or working for clean water in places that have none
Or walking three days for breast cancer
Or sending your last $5 to an organization that you love…
Better yet, continuing to sponsor children despite what type of lifestyle its employees choose to live. 
Because the Jesus acts of love and awareness and donating and justice don’t need to look shiny, neat, or even unworldly.
Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors for God’s sake.
We are to be in the world~
Immersed in our society and culture…
But living with a Kingdom heart and vision.
That is the piece that will set you apart.

Until you can accept viral acts of stupidy that result in significant acts of care for the sick and see that with the heart of Christ~then you will continue to sell your Creator way short.

And your heart will be locked in a place that has very little to do with the actual life of Christ.

"The best word for Jesus' dream is that he wanted it to go viral. Jesus launched his kingdom dream at a wedding with friends and family. He didn't march into Jerusalem on a white horse or sail off to Rome to topple the powers that be. Instead, he set up shop at an ordinary house at an ordinary event, and he launched the kingdom dream with ordinary people."


*I have also seen the argument not to donate because the ALS Association funds research with embryonic stem cells.  This is a personal decision~ but should not keep anyone from taking the time to find a quality ALS charity that does not fund that type of research and donate there.  WE EACH need to take ownership of doing our own research and not defaulting to the lazy, often uneducated, argument that prohibits your donation due to the type of research being done in one avenue of finding treatment for this disease.  Many anti-bucket-challenge people posting about stem cell research are google-searching articles that are shallow assessments of the entire ALS research base…and do not have a clue regarding the circumstances surrounding stem cell research in general. 

To donate to the ALS Association, click here.


  1. love it! well thought out, and said, Krista!

  2. Brava!!!! Brava, my Friend!!!

  3. Amazing commentary Krista. Wish more folks thought this way. Well said and thanks for sharing !!

  4. *applause* Beautifully written, Krista! I'm so honored to work with women who have Christ in their hearts!

  5. Well thought out and written. I have to say I've been impressed by so many who take the challenge AND donate. I prsy this crazy challenge allows for some big changes from those who suffer from ALS.

  6. I love how thoughtfully you wrote this post! I think the ice bucket challenge is a great way to raise awareness, we should have way more things like this in the news and social media! It warms my heart to know that so many people have donated and are spreading awareness. I think only good can come of it.

  7. You put your heart into this post. So well written and thought out. Wonderful. Thank you.

  8. Well written Krista. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and research.

  9. You are awesome!..

  10. Jesus also said: Matthew 6:1-4 -- 6 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    However, what broke my heart more than anything was to read is this: "He did not come to just die for my sins." Jesus didn't come ONLY to die on the cross to save US from OUR sins?! Yes, He Did. That is exactly why he came...everything He preached was to show us just how much we need him *desperately* and that without Him, we will fall short. None of us, no matter how much good works we do (ice bucket challenge or anything else) can work our way into Heaven without faith in Jesus...which is what we are told in the divine scriptures. This is our promise (Gen 3:15) and how grateful I am. Yes, even me with my natural skepticism about the things of this world and Thanks be to God that my salvation is not left in my own hands because how uncertain or doubtful would that be...I need only look to the cross and know that I am His. Saved. No matter how I feel, what I do, or what I say. Praise God.

    1. Grace to others cannot be offered by hearts that don't first accept it for themselves. There is so much more to Jesus than the cross~

      Coming from a VERY legalistic church background myself, it took a long time to even allow that to sink in. If I am forever stuck at the foot of a finished work that saved my soul, only able to focus on my desperation and ugliness, than perhaps I've missed the reason for the cross in the first place. Your heart is new. My heart is new... God is forever going to be transforming us in this life~ So I stand at the foot of the cross, in deepest gratitude and humility, accept the beauty and the gift, and then move out from there...trying to live out the ramifications of that grace. I know I can't do that in my own power~ but I know I am His child, and my actions need to surface from that deep belief.

      Jesus did not only come to die for sins. He came to rescue, teach, love, make disciples, show grace, practice justice, expose the religious, and set our hearts free in a ministry that *culminated* with His death and resurrection. Our lives will never get caught up in His kingdom mission here on earth if we are too focused on a single, prior act of being "saved."

    2. Thanks for mentioning the passage about sounding the trumpet, Carisa. The best way to know "what would Jesus do" is to read the Gospel and find out "what did Jesus do." It's not about legalism, just about taking care to make sure the heart is truly sincere and obedient.

  11. Very well written. Thank you.

  12. Provocative, thoughtful and a great read!! I had to look up what ASL is - over here it is known as Motor Neurone Disease!!

  13. The number of times I have wept for the complacency and hypocrisy of some Christians. I have found better souls out there in the world, who care deeply about their fellow man, who make a difference through their everyday lives. I lost my faith in the 'church' a number of years back, you give me hope Krista, that there are still Christians in this world who live the 'Christ-led' life. I love what you wrote here xxxx

  14. I am not religious but I believe in a lot of the Christian Values, I try to be a kind, loving, caring and compassionate women, a good wife, Mother and teacher and certainly agree with what you have written, I do not judge other peoples lifestyle choices but try too lead a good life and help others when I can, I certainly will donate to this charity as I do others and like you say, people should read and see the bigger picture before being so negative, Much Crafty Love to you and your family Meli xx

  15. your point of view was awesome. you made your statement clarifying things , hopefully opening minds and it was written that no one should take offense. thank you for sharing.

  16. So, I love everything shared here and have kept silent...I Admire from afar...but I just want to say, I too am God's Child and reflect, I have a very close friend who is 30 with a 2 and 4 year old who is end stage ALS and on a ventilator to breath who can't hold his babies anymore...Tell me he's ready to give in.... He would give any amount of money to hold his girls, kiss them and say good bye WITHOUT help from anyone. Most Christians would feel...So no bad feelings if you help or withstand the ice...God helped you all along the way and made you stronger because of it! Now consider returning the favor. We all get by with a little help from our friends. The Beatles spoke so eloquently!

  17. Sadly I don't have much time for reading blogs, Krista, and I am not a Facebook fan per se for many of the reasons you state here but I'm pleased I took some time to read this post of yours. It is balanced and articulate and I wholeheartedly agree with all of your beautifully balanced and articulate points! I must make more time to stop by.
    And while I am here I fear I may not have said thank you for Pixie Dust which I picked up recently via that very same social media of which I am not readily a fan. I'm sorry if I didn't and here is a big "Thank you" now! Hugs, Lesley



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...