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Forget world peace.

What are my husband and I going to do about our three-year old Lexus?  It’s time to decide, as our lease runs out next week — do we buy or do we walk away?

Before the “unintended acceleration” problems grew into the latest major recall and President Akio Toyoda was called to Capitol Hill, we had planned to buy our car — or buy a new Lexus if the dealership made us a good deal.

But even without that most recent unsubstantiated report on ABC News —  where sixty owners of ‘fixed’ cars assert a faulty fix — I feared Toyota had not yet identified the source of the problem.  And after reading reports of other Lexus owners, I’m  no longer comfortable driving a car that has a mind of its own.  We like our Lexus, but in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It was in writing this post that we decided to buy something different.  Funny thing that we’re not crazy about any of the choices  — at least not like we were with the Lexus.  But since we need a car, my not so tongue-in-cheek question comes down to this — What Would Jesus Do? Would Jesus prefer to drive around town in a Ford, an Infiniti or a BMW?

Two years ago I would have put Jesus in a humble Ford.  After all, can anyone really see Jesus driving around in a luxury car?  Something about Jesus and luxury doesn’t quite go together — maybe because he’s known for saying words like, “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth…”

Yet these days, I’m not so sure.   Buying a humble car can actually end up becoming a source of pride — when its done for the wrong reasons, like when proving ourselves better than those sinners …who’ve succumbed to materialism.  Pity those rich sinners!

Yet…what about that Pharisee who prayed this little prayer, in one of Jesus’ parables?  — “God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.” Jesus always had a surprise twist in his stories  — and in this one, the sinful (and rich) tax collector was actually judged to be more godly than the Pharisee because of his humility.  Humility rather than exterior appearances always carried weight with Jesus.

Jesus was an equal opportunity sort of guy.  He kept company with sinners, the rich, the poor and even the Pharisaic Religious Right.  Yet, Jesus saw no one good but God alone — least of all himself.  Jesus wasn’t into accumulating earthly treasures because Jesus didn’t want anything to come between God and himself or the rest of the world and himself.    And ideally, neither should we, whether the “stuff” be riches, fame, or pride —  education, houses or cars.

So forget about stuff.  Humility should be my focus — and here’s my favorite take on humility from one who tried to live true to her words:

“If we were humble, nothing would change us –- neither praise nor discouragement.  If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discouraged.  If someone were to praise us, we also would not be proud.”  — Mother Teresa

Using Mother Teresa ‘s humility yardstick as a  litmus test to car buying, my questions become:  Will owning a Ford (or a luxury car) change me  in some way?  Will it make me feel better about myself in some way?

Who knows but maybe Jesus wouldn’t still surprise us today?  Can you see Jesus driving around town today in an Infiniti  —  preaching the good news with recycled words like, “To infinity and beyond.”  Or maybe Jesus might tool about in a BMW, as even during his days on earth, Jesus was Big Man Walking.  Maybe Jesus would forsake all vehicles and continue to use those Chrevrolegs?

All of this musing helped me recall one of Janis Joplin’s final recordings, written with poet Michael Mcclure and Bob Neuwirth.  According to a few sources, the song Mercedes-Benz was intended as “a critical social commentary on how people relate happiness to money and material possessions.”   Supposedly — “the song heavily reflects Joplin’s view of what she saw as a materialistic world.”  But I’m not so sure.  Like Jesus, Janis apparently appreciated the surprise twist in the story she told.  Janis drove around in a 1965 Porche.

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me ….a Mercedes Benz?

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