Practice Makes Perfect

By Eva Andrade

The quote, “practice makes perfect” is a proverb that has been traced back to the 1550s-1560s, when its form was ‘Use makes perfect.’

Recently I overhead a gentlemen say that churches should pay taxes because they make “all this money” and don’t give any of it to the government.  He went on to say that if “all that money” went back to the government, the country would not have so much debt and the world would be better off.

It wasn’t the first time I overheard this kind of thinking spoken out loud.

It seems to me that people who believe this rhetoric do not understand that people of faith do what we do because of our deeply held religious convictions, not because of impending financial windfalls.  We do not, however, stand on a rooftop shouting it because the bible asks us to “give in secret.”   It is not about us, it is about Jesus.

Research conducted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government a few years ago reported that of churches surveyed who responded, 42.5 percent of all congregations spent less than 10 percent of their budgets on social services, 45.6 spent 10 to 30 percent; 8.0 percent spent 30 to 50 percent, and 4.2 percent spent more than 50 percent.

That is a lot of “service” in the community that the government does not have to provide.

These services range from providing help to poor and vulnerable individuals in the community, education and childcare, improving marriage relationships, youth services, decreasing violence among women, increasing moral community obligations, to promoting charitable contributions and volunteerism.  This list is not exhaustive and it doesn’t include all the new services that are popping up all over the state.

People who choose to live out their lives based on their religious beliefs may very well be in the minority today.  It is so much easier to lash out against those of us who live on a strong foundation of religious convictions than to allow us the freedom to practice our faith.  I have heard preachers gently remind us that there is a reason we use the term “practice” in describing our actions in the community.

Today’s practice seems more like a scrimmage to me.  As people of faith we will continue to give the widows offering, even when the giving gets tough.  And maybe it is time to remind ourselves, and any one who will listen, that as long as we believe in the Cross, we will practice our faith.

Perfect or not.