Often I’ll hear people say “don’t put God in a box”, meaning we should never attempt to limit what God can do in a situation. (and incidentally, can we agree to never use that term again? "Overused" is putting it mildly). But there is another perspective of the metaphor “God in a box,” and that would be to view God as some spiritual resource that can be called upon when needed.
This might look like the person that is going along, doing their thing, perhaps even going through the motions of Christianity, but then when a tough time hits they pull out their “God Box.” Suddenly they’ll start praying, they’ll break out their bible, go to church more often, even giving a little when the offering plate comes around. They might go out and buy that new Christian book that promises “seven steps to freedom,” and sign up to get that new daily devotion delivered via text. Their Facebook wall will be covered with scripture posts. And by doing all of these things, and jumping through all these hoops, they’ll expect God to jump out of the box and make their problem go away.
This is what the ancient Israelites did in 1 Samuel 4: They went out to battle the Philistines, and in the first skirmish they lost four thousand men. Not good. So they had an idea: “Let’s go get the Ark of the Covenant! It’ll give us the edge we need to beat these guys!” Yep, God in a Box. Just point and shoot, and all those pesky Philistines will be blown away.
We might look at this event and think “those guys were idiots”, but really are we so different? How many times have we allowed our spiritual life to slide, and then suddenly when we are faced with a tough situation, we think if we get back into church, start reading our bible again, start praying more, (____ add your favorite hoop to jump through)… that suddenly we’ll have the power of God back in our lives?
Guys, God doesn’t work like that. Yes, being in church, bible study, prayer, worship, giving, all of these things are important to our spiritual health, but God does not move in our lives because of what we do. God moves in our lives because of who He is, and who we are to Him.
God wants to do mighty things in the lives of His people, but the power of His work springs not from our motions of religion or ritual, but from the relationship we have with Him!
Join us Sunday for 1 Samuel 4, “God in a Box.”