Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The church as God sees it

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She told me that I owed another twenty dollars as a late fee for missing the deadline on the emissions testing. I pointed out that I had taken the test and passed. She said that was good but the computer was telling her that I was late and owed the fee.

I asked her when the test was supposed to be taken and she couldn't tell me. She didn't have that information. She said it was on the old vehicle registration. I was stunned. Who looks at the vehicle registration to see when the emissions test is due?

It struck me that this was an underhanded scheme by the State to grab another twenty dollar bill out of the pockets of the unsuspecting public. Every time you turn around there is a new tax or fee for something. I left the Department of Motor Vehicle sputtering under my breath. "All they want is my money!"

As I drove out of the parking area I passed the officer doing a vehicle safety check. "I wonder how much that cost?" I thought to myself. As I got to the main road I stopped behind a student taking a driver's test. I shook my head as I remembered the associated fees that we paid for my daughter to get her license.

The DMV is an easy target. It is natural to look at the regulations, fees and paperwork they generate and feel that they are out to get you. Yet as I thought about it, I began to realize that they really are there to keep us organized and moving forward. They provide services that are vital to the well being of all. Maybe I was too harsh in my criticism?

The truth is that many people have come to see the church in the same light as places like the DMV. How many times have you heard someone say, "All they want is your money?"

We hear about the negatives from every person who has had a bad experience with a minister or priest. Like any other human institution, the church it has its flaws. Yet in the church there is also a divine purpose which transcends the human element.

We are called to be a community where love and healing can take place. Our mission is to draw people back to God by reaching out to them with a helping hand and a thankful heart. When the church is at its best it will still have critics, but it will leave behind a testimony to the God whose love has changed lives and opened the door for a brighter future.

I think Dr. King said something like that in one of the speeches I heard this week. He talked about visions and dreams of a better tomorrow. He saw the people of God playing an essential role in transforming the whole society in which we live. That's the church I want to belong to even if it costs me something... especially if it costs me something.

I pray that the vision God put in the hearts of men like Dr. King will continue to rise up in people like you and me so that the world will see the church as God sees it.

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