Like me, many of you have been challenged to think outside the box and there are good reasons to consider things that are not the norm. Someone once said that a rut is a grave with the ends removed. Being in a box can make us feel trapped or imprisoned. But we all have been exposed to new thinking and new ways of doing things that have proved disconcerting at the time and yet have become a part of our daily lives.
Rotary phones gave way to push button phones to cordless and finally wireless phones. Wireless phones are becoming smart phones and smart phones that connect to the web and can do as much as a personal computers. But with each change has come a learning curve. (Think programming VCRs to record or the complexity of home entertainment centers where you have multiple sources of input for your TV etc.) So there are good things that come with being outside of the box. Technology can be one of the things where by we gain positive things and unfortunately negative things as well. Think of how the Internet can be an awesome tool for learning or a scourge for people fighting the addiction of pornography.
In my teaching I encourage people to be willing to step out of their box (think comfort zone) and be willing to accept the fact that God’s box is much bigger then the box conservative worshipers usually confine themselves to. This is still true but is it also possible that there are times when he wants us to stay in our box or more specifically in the box of God’s choosing (think will)? Is it possible that there is a possibility where sticking with the status quo is not only appropriate but also right? For both conservative and progressive followers of Christ I believe the answer is YES!
When we decide that God’s boundaries are too confining and we feel smothered by his rules we often long for freedom. We forget or perhaps have never learned that with love comes restraints and true freedom is confining (in a good way!). Think of a train. A train is designed to run on a track as long as it stays within its purpose it is free to travel as far and as fast as it can. It can travel to many different destinations. But take the same train and allow it to have a mind of its own and further let it decide to take a different path then the tracks laid down for it and we call the results a train wreck. The train can’t travel too far without tracks underneath it. A train that has jumped the tracks is considered to have been derailed and unable to reach its planned destination.
32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
Psalms 119:32 (NIV)
We are never more free than when we are doing exactly what we were designed to do!
If we were to take a look at the history of the nation of Israel we would see that again and again they rebelled against the track, the path that God had laid out for them and the result was never a happy experience. Read through the Old Testament book of Judges and you will read of a cycle of rebellion and derailment of a people followed by redemption and a time of peace and prosperity.
They would forget their God. As a result of their living outside of God’s box (think will) God allowed their enemies to rise up and subjugate the nation until they returned to the paths of God and than he would bring a champion to lead them to victory and peace for a generation or so until they one again chose to again think outside of the box. Check out Psalm 78 or Psalm 106 for recount of a nation of people who thought outside of the box only to eventually scamper back into the safety and comfort of the box.
Are we commanded to consider new approaches to proclaim an unchanging message by expanding our box to God’s box? YES!
Are we commanded to obey God’s commands and live within God’s box? YES!
So here’s to the tension of living both in and out of the box!