Father Abraham, have pity…

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.


  1. This made me think of Doug’s post about the butterpillars.

    Because it can be oh-so-tempting to put blinders on the areas of our lives which haven’t undergone transformation.

    And I’m not even going to add my comment on the Fuller Seminary person. πŸ™‚

  2. “it is just so easy to censor what we donÒ€ℒt want to see or admit or acknowledge around us, especially when doing so would demand a response.”

    Ouch! You are so right. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Erika–
    I have been reading your blog for some time and really enjoy your perspective and thoughts. However, something in this post just really bothered me. I’m not one to usually make a comment, but I had to this time. I just feel a sense of unfairness each time I reread your comments about the Escalade–not because your comments would not be accurate if true (and it were someone from Fuller flaunting their wealth), but because you really don’t know why the Fuller Seminary sticker is there. How do you know that that is not a parent or friend of someone who attends Fuller, who is not necessarily concerned about the things of Christ’s kingdom and is just displaying the sticker of where their kid/friend attends? I guess what struck me about this post was that it seems that you are making snap judgments about people you don’t even know based on their vehicle, not on any real facts or conversation. I realize that this was not the overall point of your post, but nevertheless, it bothered me, and seemd uncharacteristic of your typical comments.

    So, having gotten that off my chest, let me say again how much I have enjoyed your blog. Hope you have a great day!

  4. Kmama,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! I can really appreciate your point here, and while the sticker on the vehicle was a student parking sticker (Doug and I have been/are students so I know the sticker well πŸ™‚ ), I do accept your concern that I am being very quick to judge. That is not the person, nor the writer I hope to be, and I take your concern seriously.

    Also, I confess to perhaps a bit of envy over people for whom a seminary degree can be so easily afforded (again, I am jumping to some conclusions, here, but BOY if you had seen the rims on that car πŸ™‚ ). We are fighting tooth and nail to pay for Doug’s degree, and have had people at Fuller come right out and tell us to leave our calling here in South Central and join a wealthy church so that we could have help in paying for the degree. So, perhaps I am writing/speaking from a place of disappointment/woundedness in that element of our own personal story.

    So, all that to say, thanks for being willing to share come caution, and your word about not jumping to conclusions is one we all need to hear again and again.

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