WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE?

Years ago I was at a pastors’ conference where one of the speakers had the dubious nickname, ‘The Prophet of Prosperity’. After hearing him speak I was certain they had misspelled ‘prophet’ and they meant to use the more apt alternative ‘profit’. In his ‘sermon’ he described the quality of his suit and shoes, along with an elaborate explanation of the importance of a $10,000 diamond tie pin, and then he spent the rest of the message talking about his car… which was a Rolls Royce. You know, the luxury car that the Queen of England pulls out for special occasions. After describing the burlwood  dash and aluminum body panels he made this bizarre statement, “Where do you think a design for a car like this comes… the pit of hell?” …suggesting of course that anything so beautiful could have only come from heaven. His text was 1 John 4:17…as He is, so are we in this world”. His thesis was that because Jesus would drive a Rolls Royce in heaven, we therefore should do likewise on  earth. I AM NOT MAKING THIS STORY UP!

Though a priceless 1925 Jonckheere Rolls-Royce Phantom l Aerodynamic Coupe (below) may be the coolest car ever, it was actually built in Belgium not heaven.

1925-rolls-royce-phantom-my-favorite-car-carzz_114884_xl

First off, he absolutely butchered the hermeneutic of the scripture, and used the verse completely out of context. John is specifically and definitively talking about love, not cars or things. In other words, as Christ loves us, we should love one another, because as He is, so are we in this world. Not complicated stuff. Nevertheless after 30 minutes or so of this I was tangibly aggravated and ready to spit, gag or maybe even throw up. He knew he had provoked a few of the more thinking people in the crowd (the mindless lemmings were already shouting ‘Amen’.)  Then he made this statement. “Some of you are thinking, ‘Show me a scripture that says Jesus drives a Rolls Royce.’ I say to you, ‘Show me one that says He doesn’t'”. (Did I mention that I am not making this up?) At this point I did something I have never done before or since, and hope I never do again. I stood up and in a spirit of righteous contempt said, “The scripture says He rides a white horse” and walked out of the  meeting. Because there were 2000 people in the room, and I didn’t shout it, the speaker most likely didn’t hear me, but those around me did. In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t say it louder and make a scene as it wasn’t my place to correct him publicly. There was no need to add my insolence to his arrogance.

Jesus hasn’t always driven a white horse (Rev 19:11). While He was stationed on earth most of the time Jesus walked.  This chosen mode of transportation once caused Him to be four days late for a friend’s funeral (John 11:17).  Maybe His Rolls was in the shop. “Show me a scripture that says it wasn’t!” (Sarcasm) On the rare occasion when He did need a proper vehicle He rode a donkey (Matt 21) and… it was borrowed.

honda

Today I realize how that moment in my life has affected my values. I actually really enjoy cars. I have been to many car shows, read the magazines and I am a big fan of the Tesla Model S P85 D that can do 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds in their appropriately named ‘Ludicrous Mode’. I could engage in an educated discussion about cars with any auto aficionado, but I have never owned anything but high mileage mini vans.  I drove my last one to 450k before it got donated to Teen Challenge and  my current one is just shy of 300k. People in our congregation sometimes see me in my van and instead of waving they point and laugh. For the record, I am paid well enough I don’t need to drive a 15 year old vehicle. I think it is a bit of an overreaction to my above stated encounter with the Profit of Prosperity. I think I was just so disgusted that I never wanted to be identified with that kind of avarice.

There are a few sins in the Western church we have somehow convinced ourselves that they are virtues not vices. Greed is certainly among them. South of our border some preachers have taken the American dream, wrapped it in the gospel and have convinced millions that God’s will for their life is to be rich, fat and happy. Recently Creflo Dollar, whose mantra is,” God didn’t call me Dollar for nothing” sent a letter to his partners asking of them to donate $300 each so he could buy a $65 million Gulfstream G650 plane. I guess he banged up his current jet on a botched landing. The G650 is the latest and greatest in the world of private jets and is flown by multinationals like Walmart and Exxon. Billionaires like Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey were on the waiting list. It cruises at 700 mph and is the ultimate in luxurious private jets. Somehow our brother Creflo felt is was necessary for him to join the in-crowd of the ultra rich. By the way Creflo doesn’t own a Rolls Royce… he owns two of them. At any rate the Christian community, to their credit, did not respond favourably to the campaign and it was quickly withdrawn. That is not to say the good Reverend Dollar will not get his jet, he will. His Board announced that they were going to take the $65-70M out of petty cash and buy the deserving humble servant of God his plane anyway.

creflo

I don’t think it is unkind or critical to ask the question; Is this really necessary for the furtherance of the gospel? Is there really no other way for the Reverend to shuttle his entourage between his congregations in Atlanta and Brooklyn? Should pastors, even highly successful ones, be living the same lifestyles as movie stars or rap artists? This is his house in an ultra exclusive neighbourhood of Atlanta.

creflo home

Is there any way for us to even imagine the earthbound Jesus driving a Rolls, flying a private jet or living in a palatial mansion?  Matt 8:20 answers the question. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.'” I am not suggesting that none of us should own cars or houses or even a plane for that matter. In the interest of full disclosure my Board wanted to buy me a plane and I accepted. I am still learning to pilot it and yesterday I crashed it right into the couch.

MarkFlyingAirplane

What I am suggesting is that heaven can wait. We will one day live in mansions that will make Buckingham Palace look like a dump. But we are not called to try to recreate heaven on earth. Any attempt to do so will cause us to miss the greater purpose. Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor and to come and follow Him. The young man hung his head and walked away because his possessions were great. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23) A few chapters later Jesus said it another way,  “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:19)  Paul said it this way, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (1 Cor 1:26) Things and the desire for things can have a profound and devastating affect on us. Jesus could not have been more clear when He said “You cannot serve two masters… you cannot serve both God and Mammon (riches)”. Matt 6:24

multitasking

I personally will never be able to live up to the example of Jesus’ minimalist earthly lifestyle. After all Jesus didn’t have children he needed to drive to soccer games. If you are even four ‘minutes’ late your kid won’t play. (Soccer and mini vans go hand in hand. It’s the world I from which I come.) Jesus also didn’t have to pay their swimming lessons and their band trips and put them through university etc.  We have to live life as it is. We can’t really opt out of the rat race. And if you drive a nice car, I would never judge you for that. I might actually be a little jealous. We have a red Jaguar that frequents our parking lot Sunday morning that always catches my fancy. No, my big beef is with churches that offer up materialism as a virtue instead of a vice and with Christians that are running to them instead of a running away from them. Next time you get the urge to buy something you really don’t need and really can’t afford, just do what I do and ask yourself the question, what would Jesus drive?

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10 Responses to WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE?

  1. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this blog post and your sermon from Sunday. I just watched it on my lunch break today. I am so encouraged that we can help this way in other cultures. (and our own)
    Our kids have come home from conferences, being told not to support companies that promote child labor, or eat chocolate from this company, and have been pretty diligent about staying away from those companies. When they heard your story, they were so thankful for the perspective that you offered. I think they are thinking differently about these things. Yay! Thanks again…

  2. Amber says:

    Perfect timing as always, Pastor Mark! These are issues I have been dealing with since my return from Ecuador. After experiencing that kind of poverty, I could no longer look at the “toy” in my garage without thinking of it as just that…an expensive toy. Again, I don’t begrudge anyone having nice things, but I needed to make a change to better steward my financial situation to allow me to give more to those kids who will now forever be a voice in my head and heart.

  3. Terry says:

    In the past few years, our family has made the decision to drive older vehicles, and in fact has made the commitment that we will never again put ourselves in the position to have to make car payments. As such, it requires us to drive one 10 year old vehicle and one 17 year old vehicle. Fortunately, God has blessed me with the ability (though not always the time) to keep up on repairs and maintenance on these older cars, but we are quite happy with our decision. $300 a month for a brand new car sounds like quite a deal, but $3600 a year, plus insurance, maintenance (you gotta keep up or forego your warranty!), and some of the extras like washing every week (my 1999 Honda Accord hasn’t been washed since April) add up.

    Though not for everybody, this is one area that our family has decided to make a conscious decision to spend less, and it is paying dividends.

    Hearing some of the kinds of money that these ‘evangalists’ spend makes me sick. And you don’t need to go far from home to find them. The down to earth nature of the leadership team at our church is the main reason we support Church of the Rock.

  4. Carmen Millares says:

    Thank you Pastor Mark Hughes for this most ever brilliant message.

    I have no car, I don’t know how to drive, (well, I know how to make a vehicle move by pressing the gas and to stop it by hitting the break, but excellent in parallel parking) I don’t own a house, live in a small so-called bachelor luxury apartment in Toronto downtown.

    I’ve tried to have my own home for years just even a small nice bungalow to call my own. I prayed to God that I would like to have and I prayed that He’d help me. I have a decent job and at the time the house price was still affordable I could have had one by now but still I don’t.

    Each time I pass the streets with lots of nice condos, I just put my head down with disappointments knowing that with the price of a small box condo unit (over $400,000) and maintenance fees, I can never afford it.

    I just tell my friend, “Well, we will have our house in heaven anyway! Although it’ll be far from Pastor Mark Hughes’ mansion, (his mansion will be huge and ours will be way down the alleys of heaven) we will definitely have one! And to note of it all… we will walk in the streets of gold! NOW I CAN GET USED TO THAT!!!

    But for now, I would like to live a good christian life, express the greatest love I have in my heart to my family and friends, please God and hopefully not to disappoint Him all the time, and have a beautiful life on earth through God’s blessings, love, presence and guidance.

    I don’t want to waste my life on earth. After all, we only live once and can die forever!

    Thank you once again, Pastor Mark Hughes. You are a great inspiration.

  5. Abraham says:

    Hi pastor Mark,
    I just know now more why I love you and your church so much. When I read blogs like this from you telling it so brilliant and honest makes me even more to like you and fellow you.
    I live in Vancouver and watch you on line every Sunday before I go to my church and it’s always amazing how good you guys are. If it’s you or other pastors I always learn something from you guys. I just want to thank you for the good work and I know you can afford to buy a new car but you probably rather give your money to the people who needs help because that’s who you’re. Truly God’s man!
    Stay blessed pastor Mark.

  6. Sally says:

    We do have a problem with materialism in the West but we also are the most generous of peoples (mind you that may have changed now with our economic situations lately)and we give and help the most! We do help the people by our giving of our time, money and resources to those in need and by our evangelizing! We do need money for all these projects so I am all for the abundance of finances to do the work of the Lord. Churches with a poverty spirit will not help many. Yes we can be frugal and wise with what we have and stretch our dollars to do the most for the Lords work of helping the poor and getting the gospel message out but if it clouds our mindset where we would rather look like we are doing things but not really helping where the needs are this mindset is just as bad as having too much! We need balance in everything! Its not up to me to say who God would or wouldn’t bless with abundance when we know in scripture that He did give abundantly to many eg Job, Solomon etc. It says we shall know them by their fruit and if those who have been given much are helping many that is good fruit. In the end God will sort it all out!

  7. anon says:

    I agree wholeheartedly sally 🙂 God will sort it out. Abundant blessings for tithes, 100 fold increase…in this life or the next….balance is the key. absoloutely. Perharps the wealthy pastor progressed from giving his 10 pct- to 99.9 pct of his income away. we don’t know. Humans have built some incredible machines….I plan to rent them shortly. Just…. be nice

  8. Rob says:

    Pastor Mark, I think that most people living in North America live a life of excess. Having sold everything we owned in Winnipeg and moving to the mountains of Ecuador over 3 years ago has been an eye opening experience for my family. We live with much less. We don’t own a vehicle but walk everywhere we need to go, or take public transit for longer distances. Fewer toys and gadgets leaves more time to talk to friends and neighbors. Some of the happiest people that I know here are the people who have very little.

    True wealth is in the relationships that we have with others and not with buying the latest and greatest toy on the market.

  9. Grant Granger says:

    Well I am on disability income being a cancer conqueror….I am not capable of a daily career! ! I am alone and have never been close to family my granny Annie god rest in peace raised me from birth till she passed 1989. Funny she told me of the legal struggles I will endure once she gone and I became irate at her for implying such horror!! She was correct now I sit and see what $$$$$ does to a person ….r.I. p. Gr Annie I will never forgot what you taught me

  10. JOHN MORTON says:

    Hi Pastor Mark,
    You make me laugh as always. What a lot of people do not know is you are just as funny in person. I think the verse in Mark 10-23 says it all. It bothers me that some Christians look forward to heaven because they are going to live in mansions. I think that being in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for eternity is worth more than all the gold in ten thousand fort knoxes. I use to have a decent paying job making around 30 – 40 thousand a year and was in good health and constantly complaining even though I was a christian. The Lord took all that away about 5 years ago. I have not had a full time job since and my health has gone down hill. In that 5 years I have prayed for wisdom,health and finances in that order and God has honored part of that prayer. In that five years I have read the bible thru three times and am working on my fourth with a study bible. We do not realize how dumb we really are until we get into Gods word. I am sure you know what I mean Pastor Mark. If the lord had not taken these things away from me I would not have become the person I am. I have such a passion for the Lord it scares me. I am doing things I would never have done five years ago and living in a mansion or driving a fancy car is the furthest thing from my mind. I am living hand to mouth and have never had so much joy. Nehemiah 8:10. If the lord did decide to bless me with a lot of money my first thought would be how I could further his Kingdom and I am not talking about tithing ten percent.That is one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible. You do not have to tithe. Sorry Pastor I know your wage comes from this but I am just completing a series on this and my study proved this is not a commandment like some people think. My whole point here is if I had a million dollars or more like some of the preachers you mentioned and the money kept coming in I would take out what my prearranged wage was and put the rest to further Gods kingdom just like I am sure you would. The one thing I love about you Pastor Mark is you never ask for money. You just trust in the Lord like we as Christians are suppose to. Thanks for listening Pastor. If you want to edit this or not even post it I understand. Some Christians may not understand what I am trying to say…………John.

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