Sermons

Summary: The second in the series. About limiting God and how our view of God effects our life. Our attempts to try and manipulate God.

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Christians (2)

Put God in a Square Box

Cardiff Heights

9 January 2000

Tonight we come to the second in our series on the seven habits

of highly ineffective Christians. Some of you are perhaps

concerned by the topics we are looking at since your desire is for a

deeper, more real relationship with the creator God. Well let me

assure you by pointing out that being ineffective is one of the few

things I can actually 100% practice what I preach, so these

messages will also be ineffective and you will probably be more

motivated towards discipleship and being effective in you’re walk

with God than before.

The second habit of a highly ineffective Christian is that they “Put

God in a Square Box”.

http://www.geocities.com/dreamingisdangerous/GodBox.bmp

Your concept of God has a great deal to do

with the way you live your life. This is why you must limit God, or

put him in a square box. So how do you put God in a box? Well

firstly you need a very big box. Maybe one from a fridge or

something. No of course that wouldn’t work. Who ever heard of a

square fridge. Perhaps we better make our box to be a symbolic

one but a square nonetheless.

The way that you limit God is that you believe that God will behave

in certain predictable ways and that you in fact can have control

over God’s behaviour by doing certain things. God is not given any

choice, no room to act in any way he pleases but must respond in

the correct way if you pull the right strings.

There are two ways in which we can relate to any person even

God. One way is to see them as objects, to see them for what

function they serve for us. The best example I can think of is the

way we view automatic teller machines at the bank. We see them

for their function, giving us our money. And we have no regard for

how the ATM feels about the transaction. It is an object with a

function of serving us. When we treat people this way, we do a

great deal of damage to them.

Have you ever stood in MacDonalds and become frustrated with

the other lines moving more quickly than yours? The quiet rage

you feel within at the slowness of the girl serving your queue is the

same detached frustration we usually reserve for machines. Now

we feel that irritation towards a living human being. It’s as if you’re

seeing her as having no value other than to fulfill her function to

serve us.

In order to be highly ineffective in the way you relate to God you

need to treat God in the same way. By doing so you dare to

suggest that we can use God, to push the right heavenly buttons

so that he will come good with whatever we happen to want or

need. In other words, we can bribe him with pious actions or

flattering words. In doing so we make God an object, someone we

can use. If we want to have an effective Christian walk we need to

meet God, not manipulate him.

God’s interest in us is to meet us, not to make use of us for his

own benefit. There is nothing in it for him other than the basic

satisfaction of having secured for the people he loves a more

enriched, more fulfilled way of living. This is truly foolishness in a

world grown used to manipulation and coercion.

The truth is that we can treat God like on object, but God cannot

be manipulated, there are no buttons to press. We just wish there

were. It would make things much simpler if God wasn’t a complex

individual. And God doesn’t manipulate us either. Instead, he

wants to be treated as a significant other whom we encounter

rather than use. And vice versa. When we serve God or others for

what we can get out of it, we turn them into utilities for our personal

gain. Jesus radically changed the perception of the way we relate

to God. He bluntly suggested that if we are in this game for what

we can get out of it, whether that be crowns, mansions or

individual blessings here on earth, then we have no relationship

with God.

It makes much more sense to us when those of us who worked

harder or longer receive some kind of greater recognition. Don’t

you think there ought to be a kind of celestial merit system. Those

who are involved in doing more religious activities should get a

reward of some kind.

Jesus was keenly aware of this basic urge for extra recognition. He

told a powerful story about service and reward that concerned the

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