Should a Christian own a BMW?

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 weBMW 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.

Amen

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!

A new vision of Church or an old one?

Cloisters

What if…

What if being a ‘member’ of a church wasn’t about accessing communion, or submitting to the church’s  authority, but was about committing to one another’s lives no matter what.  A covenant even, that we will pursue God’s best for one another.

That we will do life together – through good times and bad.

That we will take down our masks, revealing what’s really going on in our lives and hearts.

That we ask each other difficult questions.

That when you sin against me, and when I sin against you, we are committed to forgive and work through the issues.

That there’s no bailing out when things get tough.

What if we made that covenant to each other?

What if the ‘church community’ wasn’t about weekly meetings, but about being in and out of other people’s homes and lives, day in day out?

What if it involved breaking down the different compartments of our lives – our homes, our families, our work, our friends, our neighbours, our communities – but instead tried to integrate them?

What if it didn’t pursue ‘ministry’ – but simply ‘life’?

What if it was committed to a specific geographical community, dedicated to bringing God’s values to that area?

What if it committed to pursuing love and justice, no matter the cost? How far is it willing to go for the sake of the lost?

What if it really believed that each time we walk past someone in need, we walk past Jesus?

What if it didn’t accept hard-heartedness to sin, selfishness, and poverty as an option?

What if it rejected the notion that Christian values = middle class values – that Christianity shouldn’t be ‘respectable’?

What if it committed to building friendships with the types of people Jesus himself preferred to spend time with – the broken, the forsaken, the poor?

What if it opened its homes, not just to one another, but to those in need as well?

What if we’re holding out for some sort of revival that we actually need to initiate?

What if our ideas about love have to take a step up?

What if Isaiah got it right when he said that only when we spend ourselves on behalf of others, then our light will break forth in the darkness?

(This blog was sent to me by afriend in my community http://www.communitychurchdundee.org)

5 Issues facing Dundee

Tay BridgeI have been thinking a lot recently about what are the top five issues facing Dundee (though this could apply to any city anywhere – however I live and work in Dundee).

Recently I made a brief appearance on a television show called the secret millionaire (I by the way am not the millionaire). In the show the secret millionaire asked me about living in the Hilltown and one of the things I said to her was how we have had to teach our small children not to pick up discarded hypodermic needles on the way to school.  This comment has led some people to suggest that I showed Dundee in a poor light and that Dundee is not like that.

However talking to one of the mum’s at the school gate last week she told me how in her block a drug addict had overdosed and looked like they might die, her friends seeing she was in a bad way (they too are addicts) tried to push her down the rubbish chute so that she wouldn’t die in their flat. After trying in vain to force the woman down the rubbish chute they took her down stairs and left her in the basement to die.

Most Christians in Dundee will never hear such stories first hand or have their children step over needles, condoms and used sanitary towels on their way to school (all of which are a regular occurrence for us). This is because of the transformation of their lives through their faith leads them to better parts of the city and keeps them out of the social paths where they would meet the people whose lives are blighted by addiction and abuse.  I am not trying to point the finger nor do I want to make us out to be some kind of saints, (we are defiantly not), but as I have asked the people I meet what they think are the top 5 issues that need to be solved in Dundee the following list has emerged

  1. Drugs and alcohol addiction,
  2. Crime (and the fear of crime),
  3. Break down of the family,
  4. Teenage pregnancy
  5. Unemployment

659428_42488329These are the top favourites at the moment.  (I have not finished asking people yet and so the list may change I will blog more when I have completed my survey),

The question I want to ask is what is the church doing about tackling any of the issues in the list?

I accept that there may be Christians  doing jobs I know nothing about but as far as I can see there is no visible Christian response, presence, thinking and or debate on these subjects.

If the church is to be relevant then surely the top five issues of any city must become our agenda too?