God in a Box

Our Bible study this past week explained how we all tend to put God in a box. What we learned from our parents or didn’t, how they viewed God, our particular denominations, our past disappointments, our personal views on miracles, our certainty of God’s sovereignty, or lack thereof.

When we consider how different each one of these are for each one of us, we can see how our boxes would all look differently too.

I imagine a drive-thru…People with orders that sound something like “Can I get a Baptist with a side of hard to please and just moved here?” Next car, “I’d like two Catholics with lots of questions and fear of letting their family down”…Cars keep coming.

“One child of divorce with two sides of scared and extra hope.”

“Two previous churchgoers with a childhood of abuse, add a side of adultery and not sure God’s even real by the way they’ve been treated.”

“One I survived a brain tumor only for my baby sister to die in a car wreck with three little girls to raise and I don’t know why.”

“One divorcee who swore it would never happen to her, topped with the loss of a child and a sadness she can’t explain.”

“Five pregnancies with still no baby to hold, add a whopping struggle of misplaced blame.”

“A Sabbath keeper who felt the Holy Spirit for the first time ever in a Sunday church down the road.”

“Three shots of still single and wondering why…extra hot.”

Each one is given a box. And the options are endless.

Broken hearts. Questions. Assumptions. Teachings. Personal experiences. Each one a different story to share.

Testimonies come from these stories and boxes turned upside down.

God is hoping that one day we see how confining that box is. If we don’t in this life, we all will when He returns.

He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s not carried around easily or quietly. He’s all holy. All loving. All-powerful. His character is the only thing predictable about God Himself. His activities and answers are anything but.

When I asked my husband what he thinks his God box looks like, he agreed we all have one. He also bravely shared that his particular God box would be that He is a far off God. That’s He’s so far away, He might not hear or see him. That his prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling at times. Or off into some prayer hole. I loved his honesty in sharing. God wants my husband to know He’s close.

A peak inside his box made me consider mine…

If I have a God box, it would be that I KNOW He’s capable of all things. I KNOW He is able, but I also tend to think that He probably won’t…for me. Others, yes, because I’ve seen it. But for me? Probably not. Which is strange because He’s also already given me so much. Maybe it’s because He answered differently than I’d hoped for in a past situation.

Still, He wants to bust open my box as much as my husband’s. As much as yours. He wants me to know that He not only can, but will. When it’s in line with His will and plan. His bigger picture. He will, for me too.

God wants to turn our boxes upside down through the circumstances that we face. He’s bigger than our questions and doesn’t expect us not to have them. We’re human. He’s God. Only He knows it all.

He’s bigger than what we’ve been told or how we feel. He’s bigger than a political persuasion, the thorn in our flesh, that thing we can’t seem to get over, that conversation we wish had gone differently, that character or physical flaw we wish we didn’t have.

When our lives are shaken up, He is shaking up that box. He’s hoping we see how much bigger He is. Because only then can we realize, He’s not something we just carry around and stow away. He’s not under the tree or stacked up in a corner. He’s not limited by what we think His limits are. He’s just waiting for us to see how small we’ve made Him. Because of our box.

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is TOO GREAT to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT)

TOO great to understand fully. MORE than we might ask or think.

Let’s look down into our own boxes and then look up to the One who sacrificed His Son to make us His own. The One who has always been and will always be. The One who is close, can, and will one day bust them wide open.

Pass the Salt, Please

Too much salt can ruin a dish, maybe even more than not enough salt. We can always add salt…

This got me thinking. Jesus said His followers are the salt of the earth. So, why don’t we spread out more?

“You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.” — Matthew 5:13 (GW)

We tend to fear different schools, different churches, different places. But, why don’t we spread out? Many times believers feel they need to stick together AS the salt of the earth. And, while I agree, we need each other too, and as the Bible also says we should not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). That’s a lot of salt, all in one place.

Too much salt in a dish makes us cringe, we spit it out. We can’t fix it or remove the salt in a recipe gone bad…But, not enough salt, can easily be remedied.

Go, and share Jesus there. Go, and love like Jesus there.

Go. Spread out, and pass the salt, please.

Jesus also says “GO to the people of all nations (and churches and schools and workplaces) and make them my disciples (followers). Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” — Matthew 28:19-20 (CEV)

These days the word “salty” is also used as slang for “tough, aggressive, angry, irritated”. I say stay salty (tough) for Jesus. Stand up for Him and He will surely stand up for you. Jesus Himself got “salty” at people who abused others or accused others without addressing their own logs in their eyes.

Can we do the same? Can we humble ourselves and share that Jesus is our Corrector, Forgiver, Best friend, and Savior? Can we stay salty for Jesus and spread Him around? In different places? Can we show them Jesus? And His love for all? Can we do what He asks us to do? And go?

I pray salt into every church, private school, public school, prison, office, neighborhood, country, home, heart on earth.

We need to pass the salt please. It’s what Jesus asks us to do, and quite frankly tastes better too.

 

 

What Are You?

What are you? Male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, American, immigrant, Republican, Democrat…? How about human?

If I were to ask you what church you go to, we’d also have many different answers. Some may not even go at all…But, when the religion question comes up, what do you say first? Baptist, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist…? How about Christian? I think this says a lot about what we value most.

Do you consider yourself your denomination over Christian? Are we all brothers and sisters in Christ first? Or does your particular denomination shame or discredit others for being different? What was Jesus? His nationality was Jewish, but it’s because of Him that we can even claim Christianity at all. Did He belong to a certain church? He preached in synagogues, on sea shores and mounts, but He also seemed to get on to the church folks more than any others.

He’s why we worship or should be. Denominations are formed by different interpretations of the Bible. Personally, I am a Christian who, at this point in my life, attends and serves at a Seventh-day Adventist church. I love my church and the people in it. I may not be happy with everything going on in it, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m there.

Since there are no perfect people, I can assume there must be no perfect church on earth either since they are made up of just that, people. Their ideologies, theologies, policies, doctrines, interpretations of scripture. I also think there are wonderful churches everywhere because I think there are wonderful Jesus following people in them. May we each be one where we are.

May we all serve Him where we are called and shine His light in all denominational congregations. May we love like Jesus to the best of our ability right where we are and especially in church. Sometimes they need it the most. May we go where He asks us to go. Because, one day, one sweet day, we’ll all be together. Regardless of the biases and prejudices associated.

There are enough prejudices in this world already, may we be increasingly aware that denominations do this too and may we try to be different and gracious about it.

I believe each one of us who claim Jesus will worship together in heaven. There won’t be six different churches to choose from on the streets of gold. We will be Christians who proclaimed His name above all others and clung to Him here like He clung to that cross for us.

So…what are you??