We all build them. Short…tall…wide…and thin boxes. And, unfortunately, there is a tendency to squeeze, cookie-cut, or expand the people we meet and know into the size and limitation of the box we have created for them.
Why? Maybe for ease. Once a person is “in a box,” there really isn’t much else left to look at except those walls and lids. Hence, our box-view tends to give us comfortable parameters in how we communicate to others, where to include them, and what to expect – or, often enough, what not to expect. Our parameters, not necessarily God’s. That’s important.
Our box-building doesn’t usually stop with others. Our own hallways-and-wallways of reality are defined by the stacked boxes we use to build them. Some of them are boxes full of charity and good-heartedness, opened frequently, and seeming bottomless. Some of the boxes are filled with less worthy traits that may have unexamined contents added to them, then re- sealed with haste. Some of the boxes of our walls are filled with hard bricks and are virtually unmovable. Even if the cardboard tore off….the bricks would still stand. Some of the boxes should be emptied out completely…but instead, they are opened, inspected, the contents dusted off and then carefully replaced. They’re our contents. Not necessarily God’s. That’s important.
He didn’t put Himself there, and every time He broke off the lid and hopped out, someone was standing nearby with a fresh box and a fresh role of no-escape tape. At the temple in Nazareth, His Self-revelation through the book of Isaiah was greeted by the challenge, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Jesus did not fit into their boxes….and He doesn’t fit into any of ours.
But there’s more…He created us to be a boxless people, just like Himself. Hear what Paul said to the Galatians: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26-28)
We are all one…we have clothed ourselves with Christ…that calls us to be box-cutters, helping to free our brothers and sisters into their oneness with Christ…not box-builders who keep them trapped, hindered, crushed into a shape that is not a reflection of Him being created and released through them .
We are free to be boxless people. Galatians 5:1 encourages us, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”(NAS)
Those boxes – the ones we fill with our contents, not His – are yokes of slavery to us. Those boxes – the ones we build withour assessments and our expectations – are yokes of slavery to others.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…” (NAS) Should we use that sword to slice open those boxes and let the contents pour out wherever they land, for all to see?
We could….but that would be painful. For ourselves…and for others. Instead, let’s use His Sword as He would use it – to set ourselves, and each other, free from the “weak and worthless elemental things” (Gal. 4:9) that can become our masters while they are hidden in those boxes.