On December 29, I had to make not one, but two visits to the DMV. On the last business day of the year, I had to stop in at two different Departments of Motor Vehicles.
Now, truth be told, I’m not sure either uses that title: DMV. But when I say that, you know exactly what I mean, right?
The first was the County Clerk, and I was there on their final day because, just that morning, I had received my settlement letter for our van that had been in a wreck. (To be clear, it wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t driving. Kim was. Ok, to be fair, it wasn’t her fault, either.) Anyway, to make sure I didn’t pay taxes on a van I no longer owned, I had to get it off the books by December 31. And it just so happened that on the last possible day, my settlement letter was available, so I ran by my insurance agent’s office, picked up the letter, and promptly took it with me to the County Clerk.
I walked in, pulled the little tab-number-thing, and noticed it said: 90. I looked up at the board showing what number they were serving. It read: 44. Thankfully, I was less than a mile from my house, so I went home, grabbed some lunch, and came back. And when I arrived back at the clerk’s office, the number on the board was 82. Sweet! Absolutely perfect timing. Before long, they called my number, I gave the woman my paperwork, and I was off.
Off to my next DMV visit. Or, more specifically, to the Kentucky Court of Justice, Division of Driver’s License – for my daughter’s driver’s test. As she took her test, I hung out in the waiting room. (Like the County Clerk, my wait wasn’t very long. Unfortunately, it was because she failed her test. Stupid parallel parking. But that’s another blog post.)
Anyway, as I visited two waiting rooms, I couldn’t help but think about how everybody has to go and spend time at the DMV. If you are going to drive a car, you will go to the DMV. Rich and poor. Black, white, and brown. Young and old. No exceptions. If you want to enjoy the freedom that driving affords, you will do your time at the DMV.
So, I couldn’t help but notice the other nervous teenager taking her driving test. As well as the immigrant navigating the DMV, perhaps for the first time. My attention was also drawn to the older white woman talking with the middle-age African-American lady.
And it occurs to me: the DMV is what the Church should be. A cross-section of the beautiful diversity that is people – those made in the image of God. Just as the DMV forces me to rub shoulders with people who are similar to me, and those who seem to be nothing like me – shouldn’t the Church be like that, too? Not to be PC, or to meet some political agenda – but because this is exactly what God has always had in mind for His Church.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that when Mary & Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple for his dedication, it brought them into contact with a guy named Simeon. And this old guy grabs the baby, and says these amazing words: This baby has been prepared by God in the presence of all people to be a light of revelation for Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel (see Luke 2.25-35).
Luke says that Mary and Joseph are amazed – not sure what to do with these words. But what Simeon is saying is pretty straightforward, and a lot easier to understand in hindsight: Jesus came to bring hope to ALL people. To bring reconciliation among Jews and Gentiles – two groups at least at much at odds in Jesus’ day as any two groups you might want to mention from today’s world.
In other words, from the beginning, before Jesus spoke his first word, it is made clear: He has come that the Church might look more like the DMV. A place for all backgrounds, all colors, all nations, all languages.
And the reason the Church should look like that? Not, ultimately, because of the DMV. But because of Heaven. A place where, we are told, an uncountable multitude from every ethnic group, every tribe, every people, and every language will stand before Jesus and cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7.9-10)
And so, it all comes down to this: Jesus is for everyone. Even those who can’t parallel park.