I recently heard something amazing. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) pulls over lawbreakers for automobile disrepair violations (e.g. broken taillight). But instead of giving them tickets for their violations, police officers issue vouchers, so that the lawbreakers can have their broken parts fixed…for FREE! Apparently, the MPD instituted this program for two reasons: to help remedy the dangerous situation of automobiles in disrepair being driven on the streets and to step toward repairing and rebuilding the broken and diseased relationship between police officers and the citizens they serve.
I wonder…has the MPD been reading the Bible?
If you pay attention to the story the Bible tells, you realize people and God have two things in common with the MPD and the citizens of Minneapolis: people have broken parts (making the world a dangerous place) and God has an image problem. When it comes to the problems with people and God, God sent Jesus to fix both. Jesus clears up God’s image problem, showing us what God is really like. And instead of punishing people for their broken parts, which cause damage to other people and the world around them, God offers us a way, through Jesus, to be restored.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am by no means advocating a brand of Christianity that treatsJesus like a voucher to escape eternal punishment. (That scheme perpetuates an all-too-popular, distorted, and impotent Gospel.) Rather, I am in awe of the revelation of the MPD…that offering grace with repairs and rebuilding relationship is a far more effective path for resolving the issues at hand than the threat of punishment. It’s brilliant. But, then again, why shouldn’t it be? It was God’s idea first!