No Boxes in 2019
What if every decision we made as Christians was prefaced with the perforating reality of the grace of God? Imagine that: What time am I leaving for work? Who do I need to meet with? What will I have for lunch? Should I rest or go out tonight? What will I wear? Iced or hot coffee?
Imagine every one of these activities beginning with “wow, God, I don’t deserve Your grace but thank You for loving me so much to send Your Son to take my punishment”? It almost sounds silly, doesn’t it?
What do any of those decisions have to do with eternal righteousness in Christ? How can any of those decisions relate to the all-powerful Creator of time, matter, and the universe? I must admit that I am guilty of this skepticism.
Everything in my world fits into nice, equally-sized boxes. Work, family, time, friends, finances, career, success and home—they all have their place that I put them.
I have expectations and familiarity with each box. Some contain fun. Some require discipline. But all have one thing in common: I know their dimensions. I can close my eyes, run my hands along the corners and tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, if it’s mine. I can press my fingertips against their imperfections—their bumped or bruised, weathered usage. Their size and contents contribute to their value.
If, for example, I took my family box down from the shelf and opened it, I would find comfort, encouragement and love. The family box possesses each character and uniqueness of every family member. I know it by heart, and I know what it stirs up within me.
So, if I took any of those boxes and said to myself “each time I take each of you off the shelf, I can’t help but be overjoyed in God” it would sound silly…wouldn’t it?
I recently went on a mission trip to Central Asia. I had lived my teenage years in this country, so I had a pretty good picture of what to expect when going back—the food, the culture, the people, all of it. In my mind, this is a good thing. It gave me something to look forward to. I knew this box even if I had to brush off some of its dust that had gathered over time.
After spending some time in the country, I realized that my box was still very accurate, minus one thing. There was nothing more valuable to the local Christians’ lives than the overwhelming joy of being a child of God. Everything only had value because of what Christ had done on the cross. Time, people, lunch, activities, rest, clothes and tea—all were good because they were common grace from God.
I was confused. Were they not familiar with the box system? Things have value because of where they are in our minds. The box’s size, location, familiarity, bumps and bruises, and the people inside them! I was crushed. I couldn’t believe that my daily life had gotten so overly saturated that I had missed this joy.
When the local pastor spoke about his brothers and sisters in Christ, those spread out across the city and the country, it was with overwhelming joy of salvation. When he spoke of their gifts and talents, their prayer requests, their worship, and even their poverty it was with outflowing purity of righteousness. Christ had come, the Son of God had come and created clean hearts! Therefore, let each word and expression and encounter be fueled with natural glory to God.
How have we missed this as Christians living in America? Why hasn’t the piercing justification completely shaken our religious culture to the core? Is it the distractions? Is it the comfort? Is it the need to make our mark or live a quiet life? What box is so important that we don’t fit the reality of the grace of God in?
I think it’s all of them. We create cultural boundaries, hierarchy of acceptance and systematic reductions upon truth—the truth that is greater than any dimension or metaphysical structure we may create.
The truth is, because The Creator loves us so much. He offered His Son as the sacrifice for our sinful rebellion, so that we may be reunited with Him in glory.
Brothers and sisters, when we reduce this reality, we reduce the magnitude of His glory. We take the mystery and wonder of the depth and majesty of God and put walls around it for our selfish comprehension and comfort. When we do this, we say “I appreciate you this much, but no further for now.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:3-10).
As we enter 2019, I want to encourage you, reader. Before you eat breakfast, get dressed, plan your day, or get into your car, understand one of the most important realities ever: You were bought with a price, and there is nothing more valuable than that. Let that sink in. Let it glorify God. Heaven inches just a little closer when we see through the lens of grace.