"By Law - No Rejoicing "
June 8, 2009
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
At least in the Greek, the shortest verse in the Bible is the one above: Rejoice evermore!
It's an urging which is going to be difficult to follow if you have to go to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
You see, once upon a time, the citizens of Virginia were allowed to smile when they went to have their picture taken for their driver's license. Not any more. Yes, you heard that right: smiling is forbidden at Virginia's DMV.
From now on, folks going for their ID must not smile. Indeed, they must do everything they can to adopt a "neutral expression." The Virginia DMV says this is to prevent fraud and identity theft. Now, having had my credit card stolen, I can't argue against keeping people safe.
But I am confused as to how smiling is going to keep anyone's identity protected from the nasty people of this world. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Somehow I just can't see a policeman being confused when he pulls someone over to give them a ticket and they start smiling or frowning.
Still, there must be a reason for Virginia to go the route they have. I just don't understand it.
On the other hand, I do understand why St. Paul urged the people of Thessalonica -- and you -- to rejoice evermore. Think about it: we have a Savior. Once we were, because of our sinful human condition, doomed and damned. But because of Jesus' sacrifice, because He lived for us, suffered for us, carried our sins, and accepted our punishment, all who believe are forgiven and saved. Rather than the fires of hell, we are destined to an eternity of joy.
But there's more. We have a Savior who has promised to be with us every moment of every day in our lives. When the world or the devil throws a curve at us, we aren't going to strike out. We may not always hit the ball out of the park, but the devil isn't going to get us out on strikes.
If that kind of good news doesn't make a Christian rejoice evermore, I don't know what will. So, there you have it. No matter what happens we can rejoice evermore, even if you happen to be sitting at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
THE PRAYER: Dear Savior, because of Your sacrifice I am saved. Now may I, no matter what the world throws at me, be able to rejoice evermore. In Your Name, I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries