As I go about my days, I inevitably find myself in a parking lot, rounding the aisles one after another, hunting for a parking spot. Many times, all are taken; until, all of a sudden to the left or right there is an open spot! I park with joy, satisfied with how close I am in walking distance to my destination. And I thank God for providing me with a parking spot that is so convenient.
No. I don’t.
However, I’ve heard other Christians describe this very situation citing God’s will in their lives, and while I’ve not read a book yet that addresses holes in this parking lot theology (pun intended), Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide? (’cause I need more room for my plasma TV) by Karen Spears Zacharias comes pretty close.
Granted, the book isn’t about parking lot providence. It is, however, about the relationship that exists between Christians, money and God. Zacharias met people from a variety of different socioeconomic situations as she crossed the United States, discussing with them their core beliefs about both God and money. A few underlying concepts include thought-provoking questions like, what does it mean to be blessed by God? What do God’s blessings look like? Are people homeless because God hasn’t blessed them? What is the role of prosperity in the life of a Christian?
Zacharias has several years of personal experience in a trailer, living through the ups and downs of life. And as she grew out of the trailer and moved into a house not built on cinderblocks, she began wondering about the answers to these difficult, complicated, many-layered questions. She knew she didn’t have any answers, so Zacharias set off to find people who might help her figure them out. The stories featured in the book include a woman who lives in a van, a lawyer, a woman with cancer, a preacher, an entrepreneur, and an evangelist, among others.
A former reporter, Zacharias presents these stories to the reader by peeling back the layers of each person’s life. The reader becomes an equal observer of the lives and beliefs of people featured in her book along with Zacharias, leaving us plenty of opportunity to draw our own conclusions. Not to say that Zacharias keeps from expressing her own opinion, many times with a dash or two of humor or outrage in equal parts. I think my favorite line from the book is, “And I’m pretty sure God would rip the gonads off anybody who pimped out a child in Jesus’ name.” This book is an unflinchingly honest exploration of what it means to be a Christian in a culture consumed by greed.
This book brings along with it the kind of discomfort I feel when I’m in my car, stopped at a red light, the first in a long line of cars waiting for it to turn green at a particular intersection. I may happen to look over at the pedestrian also waiting for the light to change only to realize that the pedestrian isn’t waiting for the light at all – he or she is waiting for help. The person is homeless and hungry and holds a sign. And in an instant, my mind churns with a dozen questions: How did that person get here? How do I feel about it? Should I give money to this person?
I’m not one to shy away from uncomfortable questions, especially when God is the subject and object. I appreciate Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide? for not only asking difficult questions, but also not pretending to have the answers. Zacharias’ exploration into the relationship between God and money only encourages the reader’s own journey in, out and around our own – greedy – struggles with human nature.
Note: Check out our Skype interview with Karen Spears Zacharias!