“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”
Do you know that old song? It sounds like a Christian gospel song, except Janis Joplin, who sang it starting in 1970, was making fun of materialistic Christians. There is some truth in every criticism, and my friends and I knew the truth, when we heard the song.
The point I got from that song is that my Christian life was more than an extension of the surrounding culture; it was a whole new life. We live in a world of greedy and materialistic people, and Christians can be greedy and materialistic people who also go to church. Janis Joplin was mocking those shallow religious pretenders. The truth comes from many places.
We could pray for a few things, or we could have a new life.
So, what is new for us in this terrible year of 2020? We need something new. On Thursday of last week, I was told to log into an online staff meeting, for my work. I expected something boring, and it was a surprised when we were told that our positions had been abolished. That means we were all fired, almost a hundred of us.
You don’t need to feel bad for me, I am at retirement age, and I can continue my work with a different employer, if I want. The problem is my friends who are younger, with children and mortgages and car payments. The sudden change must have hit them like a hammer.
Someone I know went to Starbucks recently, and the place was not busy. She made a comment to the person at the till, and they told her that street traffic was quiet because so many people in our city had lost their jobs. The economy is so bad that Starbucks is losing customers.
So, where do we go from here? Are you having a bad year? Who is having a good one?
If we include God in the picture, we have two choices:
- ‘Oh Lord won’t you buy me …’ We can pray and ask God to make our usual old life work, when it breaks down. ‘Give us the things that we want.’
- ‘Oh Lord won’t you change me.’ We can ask God to put a new person where the old one used to be. ‘Give us the things that you want.’
Every motivational speaker who directs us to success has one message. Find the new you, and find your new life. This is simply the truth for everyone, not just religious people. One good example is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is successful, and he credits his success to the person that he is:
What is your vision of you, in this impossible year? Is a new start a new you, or just some things that you need right now? I have been asking myself those questions in the last week. I can pray and ask God to ‘buy me’ things that I am missing, or I could ask to be a changed person in this changing world.
The second option is in the Bible. We might miss the point that a man named Jesus started his work by walking up to some people, and telling them “Follow me, and I will make you …” (Matthew 4: 19). There was no discussion about what he would give them, Jesus only talked about what he would make them into. Make us, or remake us. I know for me, there needs to be a changed person where the old one used to be. Life is going to have some challenges that the old person won’t like.
While I was thinking about employment, I read these words one morning: “… for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3: 16 and 17). It hit me then, that a changed person is more employable. This may be a strange way to read the Bible, but I believe that some of that good work helps us to pay our bills and to support our families; “every good work.”
I hope we all find this truth; success in this unsuccessful world starts with a new person, not with a few material things. I need a change in me.
Arnold isn’t the only one who knows that:
Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events. Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the wilderness and paths in the wastelands. (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)