Our Pastor Drives A Ford

Published 5:17 pm Saturday, December 9, 2023

By Michael J. Brooks

He was at the time a stem-winding pulpiteer and a denominational leader. He told of an independent church near his that believed they were in competition with his ministry. When his congregation gave this pastor a Cadillac as an anniversary present, the jealous neighbor church posted a message on their outdoor sign: “Our pastor loves Jesus and drives a Ford.”

The implication, of course, is that you can’t be “spiritual” and drive an expensive car.

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I thought about posting a message on our outdoor sign: “Our pastor loves Jesus and drives a Camry,” but this would make my American steel-worker dad angry in heaven, and such conduct is frowned on there. American steelworkers in the day cautioned against “foreign” cars, so this was ingrained in me from my youth. However, the dealer told me that the “foreign” car I was looking at, and purchased, was made in Kentucky. And it’s been humming along for four years now.

Is it possible to determine one’s spirituality by the kind of car they drive?

I remember a Christian ethicist years ago who had a book chapter entitled, “Would Jesus Drive A BMW?” For the life of me I can’t remember his conclusion, so it must not have been that profound. Maybe he was just being thought-provoking with his writing.

Sometimes people share a list on social media of the wealthiest pastors in America. And there are a few whose wealth is astounding. But I’m troubled by the placement of one pastor I’ve met and whom I admire. I know he’s wealthy because of a bestseller he wrote and with which he blessed millions of us. This pastor didn’t take a salary from his church, and has been quite generous in supporting other ministries, so I don’t think it’s quite fair that he be on the list or judged as greedy.

I think the proverbial “bottom line” is that one must decide for him or herself, with God’s help, how much is enough. It’s not a sin to be wealthy, to drive a nice car or to live in a nice house. The apostle Paul didn’t condemn the rich. He just counseled them to be grateful to the God who blessed them, and to show concern for others in need.

The proper response when we hear of a wealthy person making a generous contribution to a person or cause is not “I wish I had that much money,” but “I wish I had that much to give.”

As believers, we wrestle with two sobering questions. One, am I faithful now with what God has given me? And two, could God trust me with a larger sum of money if he gave it to me? 

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.