Just a thought – but if we work on the WWJD principle how much “stuff” would we buy? If when faced with the latest consumer must have gadget, we stopped and thought about Jesus as he is portrayed in the gospels, and asked what would Jesus do or could I imagine Jesus buying this? How many things would we buy?
A BMW is more than a car, it is a status symbol. I don’t mean to pick on BMW owners anymore than anyone else, but it is a good example to use as an illustration of how far away we are from living out the values and simplicity of Jesus. In basic terms, if Jesus had £50,000 to spend and he knew that people were dying from the lack of the basic necessities of life – such as food and clean water, would he buy a status symbol or feed the poor?
The heart is deceitful above all things and it is easy to convince ourselves that we need things or deserve things (I recently heard a friend say they deserved a new car due to the stress they had recently endured). I find it difficult to imagine Jesus saying I need a holiday in the Maldives, or I must have an iPod, and yet I hear this kind of language on the lips of many Christians including my own (I have never been to the Maldives but I do own and iPod).
Some years ago I had a conversation with an up and coming business manager. He and his wife lived in an ex-miners’ terraced cottage. It had three bedrooms and small garden. The manager and his wife were both committed Christians. When he got promotion at work he told me he had to buy a bigger house as his clients would expect it. “It is important for my career.”He said.
I replied with the following question “I wonder what would happen when your clients knowing you could afford a bigger house, discoverer that you had chosen to stay in your cottage so that you could give more money to the poor?
He bought his big house and has been successful in business but I still wonder what the impact would have been if he had not moved and would he have been more or less successful in business.
It is easy to see the speck in my brother’s eye but the plank in my own is trickier for me to spot. As I said, the heart is deceitful above all things and it takes considerable effort to examine my own motives, but it is imperative that I do it. I try to focus on Jesus and compare my morality against him and in this process give permission to some members of the community of faith to speak into my life. I need those who God has placed me with because they see the plank in my eye far more clearly than I do, they are not caught up with my fantasy – in fact we should all make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves , seeking others who can honestly reflect back to us what they see in us and turn both our will and our lives over to God.
In 1946 Mother Teresa heard Christ’s miraculous call to “Come, come, carry Me into the holes of the poor. Come, be My light.” “Will thou refuse?” How could Mother Teresa refuse? For in 1942, she had made a personal, secret vow to Jesus, “Not to refuse Him anything, however small.” When I became a Christian in 1978 I prayed a prayer very similar to Mother Teresa’s vow – the prayer was in a booklet written by Norman Warren entitled Journey into Life. The prayer was as follows…
Lord Jesus Christ, I know that I have sinned in my thoughts words and actions
There are so many good things I have not done. There are so many sinful things I have done.
I am sorry for my sins and turn from everything I know to be wrong.
You gave your life upon the cross for me.
Gratefully I give my life back to you.
Now I ask you to come into my life.
Come in as my Saviour to cleanse me.
Come in as my Lord to control me.
And I will serve you all the remaining years of my life in complete obedience.
What set Mother Teresa apart is the speed and faithfulness in which she honoured her vow. I have been trying to fulfil my vow for 31 years, it has been a wonderful and exciting journey and it is a journey that is still challenging.
The thing I want to do I don’t do and instead I do the very thing I do not want to do – this is my story – so when I challenge others I am confronted by my own hypocrisy and my falling short. I am fortunate to be part of a Christian community that challenges me to push in harder to God and who also forgive me when I don’t. Who will save me from this body of death? Yes you know who!