If you go to church in a middle or upper middle class area, next Sunday count the number of luxury cars in the parking lot. Aren’t there better ways for a Christian to use his money than to buy a Lexus? If you bought a Toyota or a Ford, how many people could you feed or clothe with the difference in car payments? Does that matter?
A Witness to the Rich?
In church, I’ve actually heard preachers and teachers defend Christians living expensive lifestyles. After all, they say, someone has to witness to the rich. But is living just like them the way to witness to the rich? What if they saw people who make as much money as them living simple lifestyles while being radically generous with their income and counting it blessed? What kind of witness would that be?
At the risk of being unkind, I wonder why preachers say things like the above. Do they really think that is appropriate? Are they afraid of offending, even driving away, the affluent in their congregation? Are they afraid of losing their tithes? Why are churches always struggling to find more money? Are they doing things that they don’t need to do? If so, why?
What About Value?
Back to the Lexus, there are times when spending a little more now saves you money in the long run. When does that happen? Where do you draw the line? If a $25,000 car lives twice as long as a $12,000 car, is that worth the extra? What if a $50,000 car lives twice as long as a $25k car? The same question applies to shoes, clothes, and computers. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. Where does that end? At what price does that no longer matter?
Where Does It End?
If I decide to live less “affluent,” how far do I go? If I really wanted to, I could live without air conditioning. Should I? Is it wrong to buy news socks when I could sew up the old ones and give away the money? Which would do better for my soul, to by a book on Christian spirituality or to give the $20 to a poor person?
My Kids or Yours?
Is it right to spend money to make sure my kids have pesticide-free vegetables, or should I worry more about the child who doesn’t have enough to eat at all? If the latter, how far do I go – healthy food is expensive, should we live off cold cuts and mashed potatoes so other kids can eat rice? At what point do other people's needs outweigh the needs of my family? Is this kind of thing why Paul said it would be better if we didn't marry?
I don’t have the answer to a single one of these questions. I’d appreciate any thoughts anyone has about any of this.