Should a church parking lot be full of $50,000 cars? Someone once said that it was wrong for Christians to own vehicles of that value. On the one hand, I don't own a $50,000 car. I probably never will. For me a car is a device that gets you from A to B. It doesn't need to be fancy or spectacular. On the other hand, I certainly own some things (an Apple computer, for one) that other people might find excessive. A cheaper Windows machine can (more or less) do all the same things. It would get me from point A to B (to use the driving analogy). Yet, with computers, I prefer to pay a little more money for the quality and ease-of-use.
There are Christians who might judge me for owning a $1,000+ laptop when I could have bought one for $500. Indeed, if we are to be careful with our money, they might have a point. So would the person who's claiming that Christians shouldn't drive $50,000 cars. I used to look at other people and judge their spending habits. It's still something I'm struggling with. But I had a revelation a few years ago that is changing all that.
- Everyone has passions and interests. If they spend their money on those things I may not understand it. You may love cycling and spend $3,000 on a bike. You may love cars and prefer to drive something more comfortable and spend the extra to get that comfort. I have things I buy as cheap as possible, but others that I "splurge" on because I want something of higher quality. We each have our own area like this.
- There are Christian people in this world to whom a $50,000 car is the same percentage of their income as a $5,000 car would be to me. They may be absolutely generous and "Christian" with their money in charitable donations, but still they have cash to throw around. To think that my spending habits wouldn't change if I was suddenly making a million dollars a year is naive and uninformed.
- Sometimes (though not always), something that is more costly indicates a higher quality of build. This means that a) it may not be thrown out as quickly, b) it was hopefully built with higher standards for employees, and c) since we are also called to be responsible with our money, buying the more expensive item that won't end up in the junkyard next week is the more "Christian" thing to do.
Can a Christian drive a $50,000 car? Absolutely. When it comes down to it, we are responsible for the money we spend, not the money on the parking lot or anywhere else. Sure, we can hold each other accountable (like if someone's $50,000 car is putting them ridiculously into debt, or if they are simply doing it to keep up with the neighbours), but the key thing to remember is that money should not control us and our lives. Ultimately, it is a tool given to us that we can use. We need to be responsible with it, and for each person that might mean something a little (or a lot) different.