Driving in Pasadena this morning, I pulled up next to an enormous, shiny black luxury SUV with rims that probably cost double what my car is worth. Living in L.A. for almost six years now, I am so accustomed to car-bling that the vehicle itself was not enough to grab my attention. However, the Fuller Seminary parking sticker on the back was. Remarkable.
And coming home, as I neared my off-ramp on the 10, I swapped lanes with a shiny black Mercedes sporting a custom license plate that read: “DVA4GOD”. Really.
When did luxury cars with ridiculous rims and self-proclaimed “diva”-hood become even remotely compatible with Christ crucified?
When I left my house this morning I realized that my car was on empty so I swung into our neighborhood gas station to fill up. As I was leaving, I saw our friend David approaching and he was not looking very good. I stopped my car and rolled down the window and we talked for a bit. I gave him eleven dollars (what I had in my purse), and I knew that that equivalent of a morning Starbucks run for two would totally change his day.
I like to listen to the old-school mix on the local hip-hop station if I happen to be in the car mid-day. One of the songs played today used the phrase “Viewer discretion advised” in the context of speaking it’s message about life in the hood. Those words kept ringing in my ears as I thought about what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus in our cultural context. Honestly, and I know I do this too, it is just so easy to censor what we don’t want to see or admit or acknowledge around us, especially when doing so would demand a response. And so we create our own safe little play-lists that enable us to pursue “the American dream with a Jesus overlay” (can’t remember where I first heard that phrase) and simply tune out the Davids in our midst.
Doug read to me some staggering statistics the other day about the number of hours and images a typical person receives from the media in a week, and clearly the message spoken through television, movies, advertisements and the like is compelling, perhaps more so than the narrative of God With Us. Which is why we barely turn our heads at the Escalades and status symbols of the week that find their way into the lives and witness of the people of God and make for themselves a comfortable home. And so Lazarus sits, hungry, while we live in excess, and I wonder at the extent of reversal we can anticipate at the end of this life.