One of the things that I enjoy about driving into DC is passing through Arlington County, and especially Rosslyn. Both of which used to be considered quite ‘country’ and were filled with crappy car lots, pawn shops, and broken down shacks. But as DC has expanded, Rosslyn has been reborn into a sophisticated and international collection of high-rise office complexes and high-end housing. The toothy skyline is constantly populated by those giant cranes, hoisting yet another building upward.
But when the leaves are off the trees– and if you can take your eyes off of the impressive progress– you will see remnants of old Rosslyn. The one I saw yesterday was a tiny house in the middle of a clump of trees, right on the side of Route 50, across the street from an expansive military installation and only about half a mile from one of the most powerful cities in the world. The house was not impressive for its appearance, but rather for its soul; its determined sense of self. Three cars were parked at odd angles in the front yard, there was quite a bit of clutter surrounding the house, and a canoe sat upside down on some sawhorses while all around it, new and shiny structures reached for the sky.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the place is worth a million dollars. I imagine an older owner in the house, regularly receiving fat envelopes and phone calls from eager developers. Yet, for whatever reason, they are sitting tight. Maybe they’re sagely holding out for the proverbial pot of gold. Maybe they’re stubbornly fighting the changes. Maybe they just don’t care. But in the meantime, they aren’t about to compromise their humble existence, in spite of their wealth.
Christians often talk about their rich inheritance, their streets of gold, their imminent expression of benevolent (or not-so benevolent) administration of the cosmos. And I’m not saying that such riches aren’t out there, or aren’t in some way promised in the Bible, but I’ve always been intentionally agnostic about it. It seems to taint my motives and outcomes if I’m somehow living after Jesus to get some reward for it. It seems antithetical to God’s Kingdom to bring it by any kind of force (whether military, or political, or any other kind of leverage).
So if we followers of Christ have some sweet real estate, let’s not worry about developing it just yet. Let’s keep it real, and keep it humble. Let’s wield our power (such that it is) gently, quietly, and meekly. As if our intentions are as important as our actions, our means as critical as our ends. And if at the end of the project someone wants to give us a million dollars for our efforts, then so be it.