Putting God in a Box
I cannot count the times I have been faced with polar-thinking. Do you know what I mean? How often have you heard someone say – it must be either one way or the other; it’s either black or white. It appears there are many people who are unable to see the grey in life.
Putting it another way, how many people have difficulty with ‘in-the-box’ thinking. This has quite a bit to do also with our thinking about God, the Ruler of the universe and the Lover of our souls.
Take a moment and imagine God before you. If you are doing this, you have put Him in a box. The problem is, we are unable to picture God without diminishing Him, putting Him into time and space in order for our temporal-spatial brains to capture Him. As this is impossible to do, we create a construct, a mental framework, within which to place our Almighty Elohim. Once we do this, He is diminished, and, so, we begin to focus on the frame, rather than on Him. What does this mean in practical terms?
One of the traps of boxing-in God is believing Him to be unidimensional; for example, there is a theology of Our Creator as pure Love. When we see Him as only Love, we exclude His other dimensions – His Justice, His Wrath, His Jealousy, etc. Thus, when we experience difficulties in life, we are tempted to cry out in anger – How could a Loving God allow this to happen? Scripture, especially the Hebrew Scriptures, also known as the Old Testament (hear the box closing?) does outline many dimensions about God, even those which appear to be contradictory. Skipping the Hebrew Scriptures cuts us off from the multi-dimensional nature of Our Creator. Perhaps the following words from the lips of Joshua might be illuminating: “Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it.”
One curious thing about we human beings – when we have a lack of understanding about something or someone, we tend to create information, make assumptions about God to fill-in the gaps. This is one of the greater dangers of boxing-in God, since it is often done by both the wise and the ignorant. A clear example of this is the theology of ‘rapture’. Even though there is insufficient information to come to definitive understanding of this doctrine, this hasn’t stopped millions of us from making assumptions – pre, mid, post-tribulation rapture. Hundreds of congregations have split over this doctrine alone. When will God gather us up to be with Him? We simply don’t know; but that doesn’t stop us from making assumptions – often to our detriment. King David penned this timely advice for us, in Psalm 131: “I don’t set my sight too high, I don’t take part in great affairs or in wonders far beyond me.”
Finally, we put God-in-a-box through theology itself. We become so preoccupied with the study of the study of God, we spend more time on building more and more ‘information’ and less and less time on building relationship with Him. In a very real way, this may lead us to creating our own works, rather than working for Him. Do we wish to hear Him say to us: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants?” (Matthew 7:21)
Beloved, how do we break-down the walls of the box, in which we place God? We wait for Him to reveal Himself to us, as we read in Psalm 119:18 – “Open my eyes, so that I will see wonders from your Torah”; we long for Him, as we read in Psalm 84:2 – “My soul yearns, yes, faints with longing for the courtyards of Adonai”; we recognize the limitations of our comprehension of God, understanding it is impossible for us to fully know Him, while on this earth, as Isaiah shares with us in 55:9 – “As high as the sky is above the earth are My ways higher than your ways,and My thoughts than your thoughts” and we wait in awe before Him, our King, our Messiah, our Abba. I pray we all will focus more on building personal relationships with Him, rather than on putting the Creator of the universe and the Lover of our souls in a box, in order for us to make Him smaller for us to imagine. Freely give over your control and allow the Holy Spirit of the Living God to open our minds and hearts to His Wonder and Majesty.
May Yahweh bless you richly.