This is my now

This past week I have repeatedly found myself driving around parts of L.A. that are a bit unfamiliar. Saturday I wound my way through the hills up to Rancho Palos Verdes; Sunday we drove to two different residences in Hollywood. And last night I ventured out through the hills and canyons of the Valley. In each of these places, I was overwhelmed by one thing: the sheer volume of luxury vehicles around me. And it wasn’t the standard L.A. black Mercedes fare: I was surrounded by Bentleys and Maseratis and Ferraris and Rolls Royces (and the really crazy Mercedes that cost an absolute fortune).

Getting gas in the Valley last night, I found myself sorely out of place in our dirty, black, 1994 Nissan Altima. Moments before, a white Rolls had been parked where my car sat filling, and it was a car straight out of a music video: totally pimped out, unlike anything I had ever seen on the streets. The three young men gathered around the car were laughing and smiling beneath the fluorescent lights.

Or on Sunday, it was the black Mercedes in front of us: the kind that makes you turn your head and stare. I was just beginning to take in the glamor of the car when another one, almost identical to it, drove up beside it, and then raced off. And in that moment the stop and stare standout became unoriginal.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been struck recently by the by and large disbelief I think most of us have that the Beatitudes as recorded by the gospel writers could actually be true. I remember the giant uproar caused by some comments made by Tony Campolo many years ago regarding whether or not Christians should own luxury vehicles: he was uninvited to conferences after that and had speaking engagements canceled. Communities that genuinely witness to belonging to a kingdom where the least are the greatest are simply and sadly not what most people think of when they consider the face of Christianity.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

We are the rich; the well fed; the laughing. Can we really hear these words and say with belief: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

3 thoughts on “This is my now”

  1. Erika – does that not want make you want to weep? It does for me. It scares me. It makes me want to go hungry but I know I won’t. It makes me want to give away what I have. To go out and collect items for the homeless and make some chili or something and distribute it.

    It doesn’t help when I’ve done this though. But what has is just seeing a bit of the hope and belief that those who don’t have all this wordly richness ready for whatever they need.

  2. Please Explain.

    Are you saying God will punish those that are feeding themselves?

    Does your Community represent” genuinely witness to belonging to a kingdom where the least are the greatest?

    Do you ever wish you were those people living in Hollywood, driving the luxury cars or rich?

    What’s your biggest challenge in your community?

  3. The woes in scripture are spoken as warning, as words hopeful for repentance and transformation. And perhaps there is a warning to be heard by those of us who feast in the face of so many who starve. I believe that God would desire for all children to be fed and for none to go hungry. Clearly that is not a picture of our world, both here in L.A. nor across the globe. The scriptures speak to that reality, and they speak words of caution.

    I am a mother–of course I feed my kids. I would never reduce the power of prophetic warnings to some absurd asceticism in the here and now.

    My community certainly does not genuinely witness to the truths of the kingdom at all time. It is a total struggle and we fail more often than we succeed. We are seeking…

    Biggest challenge: authenticity, humility, generosity, sacrifice (be it in love, friendship, giving, etc.)

    Do I wish I were rich? There are many times I wish I had more money than I do. I think most people struggle with that. I complain about being crowded in our apartment. Then I go and pick up some kids who live down the street where a family of seven, sometimes eight live in a studio. Perspective.

    Thanks for the questions!

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