Monday, July 25, 2005

Buying Cars and Stumbling Others

We've spent the last few weeks helping someone search for a car. This morning, she sent out this email:
Yo guys.
Thanks for helping me in this car search thingie. Really appreciate it.

Had to think about loads of stuff while contemplating whether to purchase a car:
Q: Is this a good stewardship of money?
Q: Do I really need a car?
Q: How can the car be used to serve others?
Q: What car would be the best use of God's money for which I would have to give an accounting on the last day?

It just occurred to me that another factor to think about is that I live within a community of believers, a church. Therefore the purchase of a car not only affects me but also affects others within the local family of Christ. In purchasing a car, I should not stumble anyone. A pretty car or perceived-to-be luxurious car might cause others to lust after it and covet it even if price-wise, it costs less than a soul-less new Jap/Korean car.

You might know me well enough to know how much I appreciate (perhaps demand) beauty in objects: classic leather-strapped Rolexes, soft-calf Bally leather, the exact shade of black on Prada goods... I think I can say in good conscience that my love for the beauty in these things is intrinsic and not tied to any praise or admiration I may garner for being the owner of these items.

Similarly, the look and sound of a Beetle or the classy curves of a classic BMW or Merc or Aston Martin...

But even though any of these may actually be a better use of money than the purchase of a new Jap/Korean (with the welcome addition of some character), I guess there is the danger that they might cause brothers and sisters to stumble. Therefore, I have decided to look for the ugliest, most uncovetable working used car possible [Q: Does this work for husbands as well? ;-p].

Of course there is the 3-strand reason for why we sin: the world, Satan and our flesh. So people might still covet my ugly car but the least I can do is show my love for my church family by not putting stumbling blocks in places where I know some people might trip over.

Please hold me to this.

[PS: It scares me that I teared as I made this decision. In all conscious memory, I've never ever considered any car other than a classic. It's almost like giving away apart of something entrenched within me, some cherished dream. But what is that compared to the invaluable godliness of others. Yet, it's scary to realise how much I still treasure things of this world...]
Postscript: after the car was acquired, she had this to say:
A car was necessary because I continue to reside in ulus-ville and waste loads of time (and other people's time) attempting to get to civilisation and meet others. A car would mean weekend, beforework and afterwork time can be used more efficiently for ministry and errands, rather than waiting for a taxi/bus/lift out of the house.

Am quite sad to have to stop taking lifts because the enforced proximity that is a function of lift-taking has helped to nurture many a friendship and provided the enjoyment of not just a few fellowships discussing God's words and works. Never mind. Now, I shall be another provider of enforced proximity for friendship and fellowship.


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