Summary: Be careful what lines you cross and whose box you jump into.

Drawing Lines and Little Boxes

Recently I was described as one who draws lines all through their sermons. I was also told that I have a very small theological box and it was easy to surmise that neither comment was meant to be a compliment or to affirm that these were traits to hold on to and for others to emulate. I believe that the person was trying to be constructively critical of me. He was at least trying to be sure that I understood that I possessed these dubious qualities.

The observation was also made that I would be uncomfortable in a church whose box was larger than mine, and that I would make the larger box people uncomfortable. The uncomfortable part is a fair assessment of my time spent with folks with a much larger box the last few years.

For those who are not business oriented, getting out of the box means to be a paradigm challenger. It is a new catch phrase for an old concept of trying to stay of out of ruts and being open to new ideas and innovations. In business, such advice is very sound since a company that does not stay abreast of technology and market changes will fail. I can see a need to be looking out of the box in methods and means of reaching people for Christ, but I find it a deplorable concept for theology or doctrine in particular.

I have been a paradigm challenger most of my life. Again, for the not so business or motivational tape oriented, a paradigm is a model or the mode in which things are done. I challenged authority in the sixties. "Why?" was my favorite question when I was told what I should do and when I should do it. If they told me why, I asked why that was why and why not some other reason why was why.

I was the only real hippie in a redneck town. Did I have a problem with breaking out of the box or challenging paradigms? Even in the military, I was really only a civilian in uniform. There are a few suggestions in the archives from my military days that questioned the unquestionable - military tradition. I believe in tradition. If tradition is truth, treasure it. If tradition is just tradition, trash it. I was almost tossed out of college because I asked too many questions about people and things that folks did not want to have asked. Fortunately, a couple of other paradigm challengers spoke up for me and I was able to complete my degree.

At my job, I am not known for my shyness in resisting political silliness. My concept of political correctness is that what we really need is political Correctol© to move the manure out of D.C. I grew up in a Democratic family, but I am a Republican only because there are no viable third party candidates and in my mind, a vote for a Democrat is pretty near a vote for the devil. As far as I know, I am the only Baptist in a family of mainline denominational ties. I was the first one to join the Air Force and one of the few to complete college. I think I can break out of boxes fairly well if they are too small and can cut them down if they are too large.

Now, I did draw some lines in those paragraphs and some of you are saying, "Yep, the old boy has a fairly small box." Well, shucks, I t’ain’t got started yet. C];-)}|> Before some of you think that I just like drawing lines and trying to squeeze everyone into a little box, I want to tell you that you are wrong.

Remember I am an old hippie and lately, the emphasis is definitely on old. I don’t like people telling me what to do and I got out of supervision because I don’t like getting people to do what they know they should do and yet don’t want to do. Here is the irony of me wanting to be a pastor. In my experience, the bulk of a pastor’s job is getting people to do what they know they should do and also to get them to stop doing what they know they should stop doing. I reckon that is what makes the pastorate a calling instead of a career field as we have made it into. Were it truly a career field, I would never choose it, but as a calling I cannot refuse it. I do not draw lines just for fun and frolic.

I am a joiner. Maybe it stems from me being raised the only child of a widow, but I love to belong. I have had memberships in various organizations because I identified with them or their causes and wanted to be a part of that cause. I was proud to show my membership card. I was proud of my Air Force uniform. A joiner usually has to have a big box to include people if he wants to be included in their box. However, I have left groups and at times have been a loner because the group went too far or for some other reason. I can be alone if I have to be alone. Some boxes are far too large and I must get out of that box if it will not shrink. Sometimes a member of a large box should get out of it and see if it is too large rather than boast on the size of the box. Bigger is not always better.

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