Summary: Do we keep our God in a box or do we trust Jehovah God of the Bible?
God – Outside or Inside Your Box
* Every one of us has boxes around our house. When you move, you pack everything in boxes, label the box to identify the contents, and then unpack that box when you’re ready. Additionally, boxes are used to keep things. At our house, Deb is notorious for putting things in a box of some kind, labeling it, and then storing that box until it is needed. Putting things inside a box gives us the sense of organization and control. As long as it is in the box, all is well, we know where it is, and things never get messy. We love things “in the box” so much that our kids even have a toy called “Jack in the box.” That toy works like this; Jack only pops out when we want him to, he only stays out as long as we want him to, and he goes back in when we say to.
* For all of these reasons (and more) the phrase “outside the box” has come to mean outside the norm, without the normal restraints, and even not under the normal controls or constraints. So anything in the box is under control having the appearance of normalcy while outside the box is outside the norm and under less control.
* As we have read our scripture and heard Paul’s stirring song of praise for God and many of His attribute, it is very clear that Paul views His God as a God who is “outside the box.” That is, a God who not under Paul’s thumb or under control.
* So today I ask, “What type of God do you have? “Is He inside or outside of your personal box?”
* What would it mean to have God “Inside my box?” He would become;
1. A Managed God – Now, think about that just a second. This would mean;
a. I Create God – Have you noticed that some in our culture do not like the Biblical view of God? In Genesis 1:27 God says (as He speaks to the Angels and other Heavenly Bodies), “Let us make man in our image” and today the attitude seems to be “Let us make God in our image.” On a cultural level, we can see this happening in many ways (too many ways to name). This week I read an article as to how the “Gender Neutral” prayer book for reformed Jews and even the “Gender Neutral” Bible allowed the readers to construct their own image of God. On a personal level, we tend to create God in our image when we don’t care for what He says about specific actions and activities. Some don’t like the fact that God gives boundaries for our behavior. Immorality will never know the favor of God as neither with gossip. When we don’t like something there is a tendency to adjust our ‘god’ and make him a respecter of our thoughts & decisions. Having a God I create gives me the power to keep him tucked away. However, this is simply the first reason we Keep God in our Box. Next,
b. I Control God – I submit this is HUGE for in our Americanized church culture. We are a culture of people afflicted with OCD. Our desire is to control everything from our finances to our families to our faith. Truth is, if we are allowed to we will attempt to control someone else’s life. I mean, if we can control our concept of our God, then why can we control our church, staff, preacher, friends, spouse, and boss? If I can control God, then I know exactly how He’s going to work. He is predictable, He is contained by my little concept, and He is always there when I need Him while, at the same time, He doesn’t have the influence or the power to even change my mind, let alone my schedule, priorities, or life. Literally, He works with my permission. Now, most of us would say, “I don’t believe that about God! You have to be talking about the pagans.” While we say these things, isn’t it true that some would be upset if something truly unusual happened this morning? For many, I want ‘my’ time of worship to be what “I” like and want and little thought is given to what God likes and what God wants. Truly, a God we can control is an oxymoron.
c. I’m Comfortable with God – While it may be true that God desires for us to find “comfort” from Him, it is equally true that scripture records no one who was ‘comfortable’ in His presence. At the burning bush, Moses hid his face in fear. Isaiah withdrew saying, I am unworthy, unclean, and undone.” On the aisle of Patmos John feel down before God in fear. Every time God comes near to an individual, He (and His angels) always begin with “fear not” because mankind is anything but comfortable in the presence of deity. Yet today in an effort to make God more approachable He has been made into something He’s not. There is a great difference in being comforted and comfortable. When we become comfortable, the awe is gone, the wonder has passed, and even the fear has subsided. With all due respect to everyone who desires to make themselves comfortable with God, this could be a subtle attempt to create God in our own image, that you might keep Him in your box and under control.