Thursday, July 13, 2006
Taking GOD outside the box
Those who know me well know that I am a tactile and visual learner, I like to touch and see things in order to understand them. And here I am, a pastor, trying to teach things that can't be seen or touched or tasted in the manner in which, perhaps, one could teach baking. (Pie anyone?)
So when confronted with Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 that we should be empowered to know the breadth and depth and height and width of Christ's Love (which surpasses knowledge) I thought about a box.
I hope this isn't because I'm obsessed with getting boxes unpacked at the house.
But I do like to put things in a box. Packing is almost fun, it's the unpacking that is becoming a problem. It's easy to put things into a box, providing that the box is big enough.
One of the first boxes mentioned in the bible is the Ark, according to the New Living Translation, the Ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. That's a pretty big box, and it didn't hold God, it held Noah and the animals.
Another God Box of the bible is the Ark of the Covenant. It was 3 3/4 feet long, 2 1/4 feet wide, and 2 1/4 feet high. That's not a very big box. Surely not big enough to contain God.
With a little work I discovered that Zion Lutheran's sanctuary, (another God Box) is 92 feet long by 56 feet wide and about 18 feet high. Somewhere in the middle between Ark of Noah and Ark of the Covenant.
Still, not big enough to contain God, or as Paul is really looking for, God's love.
God's love is bigger than the new boat, Freedom of the Seas, which is 1,112 feet long, 184 feet wide and drafts 24 feet. You get the picture, I hope that there is no Box for God's love. We as humans, my try to put God in a box, but God won't stay there. (unlike my paring knives which are staying in whatever lost box they are hiding in)
We try to put God in our favorite box; the one that contains a God that looks like us and acts like us. The box that we'd like to be in, even if we can't quite get there. Small boxes are sometimes better because there is not so much room to rattle around and get lost and confused. Big God Boxes are scary, because they may contain a God that confronts us and challenges us. God may want us to step outside our box and into someone else' box that doesn't look like ours.
How big is your God Box? How long is God's love? Does it go all the way back to Adam, or even futher back to before humans were created? Cand you imagine a love that extends forward to eternity?
How deep is God's love? Psalm 139 reminds us that if we go to the depths of hell, God is still there. So if we feel like we've descended into the depths, God is with us.
How wide is God's love? It may be harder for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven, but God's love cuts a wide swath though human history.
What is the breadth of God's love? What is the fourth dimention to a love that knows no bounds?
Big enough to love you when you doubt or turn the other way?
Big enough to see your tears and wipe them dry?
Big enough to laugh with you when you trip over your own feet?
Big enough to open up the box of your heart and dwell within?
What if you really believed that God loved you as much and Christ says? More than can be understood, asked or imagined? How would you act? What would you do?