In our early twenties, single, and both hoping to head overseas as missionaries, a girlfriend and I used to say to one another, “We’ll never drive a minivan.” We weren’t worried about an American lifestyle we thought we’d be leaving behind. We were stating (with pride and arrogance, I now realize) that we were “better than that.” Decades before the book by that name was written, we were sure we were called to a more “radical” Christianity. We weren’t going to settle for a middle-class Christian life.
Years went by, though, and I never moved to Africa. She never moved to South America. We both stayed in the U.S., living life in average North American cities. We got jobs, married, had children. I even drive an SUV.
But here’s the thing. Even though my heart now bursts with thanks when I’m ferrying a carload of kids someplace, I still often wrestle with — in a healthier sort of way? — those same thoughts I had in my twenties.
And really, we all should, if we truly follow Christ.
Whatever our time-zone — whether we live in urban India, rural Australia, or suburban England — and whatever vocation God has called us to in His global plan for the ages — we need to always ask ourselves these questions:
- What is my ambition in life?
- What truly is my guiding principle?
For our hearts, deceptive and prone toward excuse-making, must be questioned and corrected and re-corrected by God’s truth (whether in our 20s or in our 80s). We drift so easily into self-serving complacency. We lose sight of our Lord’s warnings.
Words I read during the Christmas season have re-warned me these past few weeks, used by the Holy Spirit to convict me. Hear God’s correcting truth through J.I. Packer:
“Nor is it the spirit of those Christians – alas, there are many – whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.
The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor – spending and being spent – to enrich their fellow men, giving time, trouble, care and concern to do good to others – and not just their own friends – in whatever way there seems need.
So the questions I never want to quit asking myself are these: No matter my worldwide address, am I being spent for Jesus’ work, or am I settling into complacent self-service? Do I worship the safety of nice, middle-class life, or the Master who spent Himself for the poor? Do I say I follow Jesus with all my heart, yet actually seek comfort from a nice, controlled life?
Have I become a “Christian” snob?