What a pleasant surprise to receive a letter from you! Your previous letter said you’d been working 60 hours a week to get the promotion you wanted, and now I read that you’ve received it. Looks like your hard work has paid off. You certainly are living the American Dream!
Congratulations, too, on your new five-bedroom home and your new Porsche Cayenne. I’m sure your wife and kids are deliriously happy with both. Thanks also for the pictures from your recent vacation to St. Kitts. My, the twins sure have grown.
I read the printout you enclosed of. You agree with his contention that there’s no compelling reason to buy an Apple iPhone. That’s probably a wise decision.
In reading that article, though, I find his reasons for not buying an iPhone intriguing. Most of the reasons he cited were technological. I, for one, think a far better reason to avoid it exists.
In our previous correspondence, we’ve gone back and forth on Jesus and what it means to be a Christian. I know you are quite a spiritual person, a “seeker” as you say, but I believe being spiritual and religious doesn’t go far enough.
So, Rich, I’d like to consider a word you don’t hear much today: profligate. That’s a word I would have liked to have seen mentioned in the article from the Thomas Nelson CEO, but even companies that deal with words shy away from some of the less popular ones. Profligate is one of those words.
Here’s how the dictionary defines the term:
1. utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute.
2. recklessly prodigal or extravagant.
3. a profligate person.
I can’t help but think, Rich, that since perfectly good cell phones can be had for $50, the desire for one that costs ten times that much seems…well, profligate. No doubt, the iPhone reeks of style and trendiness, and no doubt, many people who claim to follow Jesus will buy one. I’m not sure, though, that those buyers understand the word profligate.
Let me tell you about some people I know. I know a couple who bought a small home in one of the worst neighborhoods in our city. He has a good job and could afford a much larger home, but he and his wife elected to use their extra money to meet the desperate needs of their poorer neighbors. I know a man who forgos the expensive medication he needs to feel better so he can help a woman who has no health insurance pay for the even more expensive cancer medication she needs. I know a family who sent $1000 of their hard-earned money to help an unemployed couple they had never met in person make a house payment so they could keep their home. I know a man who gave every cent he owned in the world to fund a missionary couple who would have been recalled. Those missionaries were in the middle of their translation of the Bible into a new language. They would’ve had to come home unless they raised enough money to complete the translation.
Funny thing is, those people I just mentioned don’t know the common, negative understanding of the word profligate either—but for a far different reason. They live a different way: the way of Christ. If they have any profligacy in their lives, it’s profligacy in giving, not taking.
You mentioned in your last letter that I sounded out of step with the rest of the world. Indeed, I fear I am. You see, for me, it’s not so much about accumulating the hip trinkets of this life, things that break, become obsolete, and ultimately do not satisfy the longings of the heart. That’s because I believe in a world far more real than this one, a world where hip trinkets pale in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, as you said, it’s a risky belief. It means not keeping up with the social standing of the rest of the world. I would probably never be voted into the wonderful country club you and Mrs. Ruler just got accepted to. But that’s okay, Rich. It really is.
Some Christians believe this world is not their home. They won’t be understood by the rest of the world, nor by some other people who say they believe in Jesus. They’ve said no to many of the things the world offers and that’s an exceedingly hard thing to do.
You see, Rich, it’s one thing to say you believe something. It’s another thing altogether to believe something so much that your life looks radically different from the rest of the crowd. The crowd says so many things and believes so many things, doesn’t it? But who is willing to die to the voice of majority and give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose? In a way then, the true profligate may be the one who appears to have every thing deemed good by the world’s standard, but will one day wind up losing it all in tears and flames. He has gained the world, but lost his soul.
I know my letter may not make sense to you. I’ll keep praying, though, that for all your seeking, God in His grace will make Himself known to you.
But I must caution you, Rich. If He does, and you take that revelation seriously, it may mean an end to one dream and the beginning of another. That new dream won’t look much like the old one, though. It may mean not only forgoing an iPhone, but giving up cell phones altogether. You may end up thinking it better to share those extra bedrooms in your new home with orphans or widows even if it means you could no longer afford that home theater system you said you might be purchasing. Don’t expect to be popular for electing not to keep up with the Joneses so you can minister life to others. The folks you run with probably won’t approve of your new dream. You may lose your standing at the country club. You may even be kicked out because you’re no longer one of the right kind of people.
But then again, that new dream’s the only dream that counts, the only one that ends in the Eternal Golden City. I pray I see you there.
For the Kingdom,
B. A. Disciple