The Big Issue
December 16, 2010

What Is The Big Issue ?


Most folks in Enniskillen have heard of ‘The Big Issue’.  For the last 14 years Noel McAuley (pictured) from Sligo has been selling ‘The Big Issue’ magazine in the town.  Noel is a familiar figure in the town and can be found most days (except Sunday) seated outside the Bank of Ireland on Townhall Street listening to his radio . cassette player while he sells the famous magazine.  Although quick to point out that he himself is neither homeless nor an alcoholic, he informed me, when I spoke to him this week, that all profit from his sales goes to help those whom he refers to as the ‘less fortunate’ in society. Noel’s selflessness in carrying out this work is commendable.  Like many in the town I have often walked passed him without stopping to chat with him or to buy ‘The Big Issue’ from him.  This week I decided to do both and it was an enlightening experience.


When I got home and read through the magazine I found it dealt with financial issues, social issues, religious issues, crime issues, life issues, historical issues and various other ‘issues’.  Whilst I enjoyed reading the different articles I couldn’t help but think that the biggest issue of all was not mentioned – the issue of our sin and our relationship with God. Many of the issues covered in the magazine were undoubtedly important, but, in the light of eternity, these issues pale into relative insignificance in comparison to the problem of our sin.  No matter how good we think we are the fact is we have all sinned against God. Our sin has not only separated us from God, it has left us facing the awful prospect of being cast into hell when we die.  Thankfully there is a solution to our problem.  God, in the person of his own Son, Jesus, paid the penalty for the sins of everyone who would believe on him and receive him as Lord and Saviour.  He became their substitute and bore God’s wrath and punishment against sin so that they might never be condemned and punised.  The Prophet Isaiah says “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace…”  The Apostle Paul says “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”   


I admired Noel McAuley’s years of selfless giving in seeking to do what he can to help other needy human beings.  The greatest act of selfless giving on behalf of others that this world has ever seen or will ever see took place almost 2000 years ago at a place called Calvary. There The Big Issue was addressed and resolved as Jesus gave his life for sinners. For those who have received him as Lord and saviour the issue of sin is settled; for those who haven’t, the Big Issue is still to be faced.

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