Following on from Andrea’s message last week, Pastor Phyl brings the first part of his two part sermon. He begins by talking about boxes, and how there are so many sayings around boxes.
One such saying is “Think outside of the box”. This is a term which we are all familiar with. Online, there are often memes and images shared, which show an image of a box, and a reference that outside of this box, is where the magic happens.
Pastor Phyl goes on to say that one of his favourite things to do when the kids were younger, was to grab a picnic, and to go on a ‘mystery tour’, where he would not tell the girls where they were going, and enjoy listening to them trying to guess where that was.
The thing is, we are creatures of habit. We are wired for routine, and will often do the same things day after day after day. This sort of attitude and routine is a perfect recipe for a boxed life.
To illustrate his sermon, Pastor Phyl shows us piles of boxes, and invites a couple of volunteers to come and open some of them. One of these boxes looks like a treasure chest, and reminds us of a passage of scripture in Matthew 6:21, where it says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The thing is that we tend to take temporary, and material things, and make them “treasures” when they were never meant to be. If we look back to the Old Testament, we see the Ark of the Covenant. If anyone were to open it, they would find a bit of slate, a rod and a staff.
They are merely representations of the promises of God. This is because God doesn’t live in a box. He cannot be contained by us, or by any box. Neither space, nor time can hold Him. We try to identify and box God up. Jacob wanted to wrestle with God, and Moses wanted His name, but we don’t need to know. God tells Moses, “I am who I am.” God simply is. He is all encompassing, and all around us. Psalm 139:8 says “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
Pastor Phyl then refers to the “Footprints” poem. This is so true. In certain situations, we can feel like God isn’t near us, but the truth is that we have chosen to box Him up, but God is too big for this.
We try to box up so many things; things that are physical, but also things that are in our hearts; things that aren’t physical. These could be emotions, or spirituality. In John 3:1-22, Nicodemus has many questions, and he comes to Jesus, but as a man of status, he decides to come under the cover of night, so no one would see him.
Our world is one, driven by guilt and shame, but God doesn’t give us that. Guilt and shame are not of God. In Genesis 3, when Eve was tricked by the serpent, she and Adam both ate the fruit together. This is the moment that guilt and shame came into the world.
The thing is, we all feel guilt about things we have done, but shame is the result of guilt. When Adam and Eve had sinned, they saw what they had done, and they saw that they were naked and they felt shame. Even here, God helps them out by making them clothes to hide their shame. They were innocent at the start, but they ‘grew up’.
This is what happens with us, and as we grow, we begin to cover up emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Things happen in life, which cause us to take on a new identity, but Jesus tells us that we must be ‘born again’. Here, he is referring to a spiritual birth, which helps us to get rid of our shame and guilt.
Pastor Phyl goes on to ask us, what we are boxing up. When we were younger, we were told a story about a cassette player that would tell of all the bad things we’ve ever done. Pastor Phyl asks us, what the worst thing that would be told about us.
The truth, though, is that God never condemns us. We condemn ourselves, but we have a choice. We can choose to live a free life, or a condemned life. We can take on other people’s views of us, or we can choose to focus on God’s view of us.
What’s in our box?
What story are we telling ourselves?
What we must do if we are to life a free life, is to give God access to our unholy parts. This is the process of sanctification. Inside our boxes, is darkness, and we must open them up and reveal all to Him, so that He can shine light on our sinful things. We must defy those who speak negative things over our lives.
We all have insecurities of who we are. Our boxes get put in boxes, which get put in yet more boxes, but God can do away with these. God breaks us down until we see that we are who He says we are. Then we can break up our boxes, and we won’t have to come to Jesus by night any more.
We know our own boxes and where they are, but we need to surrender it all to Him. We must open our boxes to the light and stop thinking like adults, but instead, come to God in faith, like children.
Scriptures: Matthew 6:21Psalm 139:8, John 3:1-22, Genesis 3.