Boxes♡

Jesus will meet you in your box, but He has every intention of getting you out of it.💜

Not everyone has an encounter with God through the “ABC’s” of salvation. Just sayin.😯

God is WAY, WAY bigger than that.

If you did, then that’s ok. ❤️ And if you didn’t, that’s ok too. ❤️

There is no person on earth who’s eternal destination is hanging in the balance until YOU reach them and tell them they need to be saved. That they need to “Admit, Believe, & Confess” in order to avoid eternal punishment.

I don’t know about you, but this takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Let’s cut ourselves some slack here. It’s not our responsibility, nor is God waiting on me or you to witness to everyone we come in contact with.

Can we? Of course. God always invites us to participate in everything He’s doing. But it’s never a forceful thing, it’s an open invitation. And He’ll continue to reveal Himself and pursue his creation with or without us.❤️

But if you’ve ever felt like this is something you ‘have’ to do, you’ve been misled.

Anything that has an obligation attached to it can become lifeless.😕

If we lived our lives fully immersed and in the center of the relationship of the Trinity, where we were created and where we belong, we wouldn’t need evangelism classes, tracts, or any other ‘help’ to spread the message of Christ. It wouldn’t feel burdensome or obligatory. It would be plain and evident and crystal clear~and as a result it would spill over into our lives from the inside out.❤️

Oh how much pressure that would take off many well-intentioned, weighed-down and overwhelmed pastors, a group in which the suicide rate is steadily increasing at an alarming rate. This is true for pastor’s wives too.

We have to remember that not everyone understands our religious jargon…such as ‘saved’, ‘born again’, ‘the sinner’s prayer’, and so on.

And they don’t have to.

Not everyone has to have a meeting with a pastor, leader or any go-between in order for that person to determine whether someone is ‘ready’ to move on with their relationship with Christ. How on earth could we determine that anyway unless we could read their mind? 🤔

Some of us find Jesus in a routine, religious setting, and some of us don’t.💜

He’d be a very small God if that was the only road that led to Him.

Good thing it’s not. ❤️

But we get so preoccupied in constructing our boxes and clinging to what we’ve always known to be ‘right’ that we forget that God is introducing himself to people outside of our church walls in ways that would make our heads spin.

God loves church kids and he also loves kids who will never step foot inside a church. And let’s not be so naive to think we are ‘responsible’ for getting them there to get them ‘saved’, because that’s not necessarily the case either.

Again, we can…but we don’t have to.

He will speak their language when we can’t, when sometimes all we know to do is hesitantly follow an outline in an outdated tract or lead them in a sinner’s prayer. Not everyone is going to respond to that folks.

I’ve also never understood the urgency to get someone ‘to a church’ to share the message of the gospel with them. Can that not happen outside the four walls of a building? Can we not share it with them in everyday life? Does someone ‘inside the church’ have to do it?

If you grew up as a church-kid like me, you likely met Jesus in the typical church-kid fashion. It’s a familiar box. Predictable. 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽

It goes something like this..dress up, grab your Bible (that’s likely in the same place you put it last Sunday😵), attend church and sunday school faithfully, behave really well while you’re there, 😝go to VBS and other activities in the summer, start memorizing verses….start feeling guilty..

And the most alarming part? Start getting AFRAID you’re going to end up in this place we call Hell.

Next, we start asking questions and then finally make a ‘decision’ largely based on the fact that we don’t want to be ‘separated’ from God and risk being thrown in his place of eternal torment, made by a God who is supposed to be…“Love…?” 😰

One problem with this mindset is that in most of these scenarios, a relationship begins out of FEAR. Does it make any good sense for a God who IS Love, to use fear to entice a person to him, especially a child?

The more I’ve thought about it, the more it doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

Scripture tells us that fear isn’t even a part of who God is. Like it can’t be found in Him, period.🙌🏽

If Fear exists in any of your boxes, those boxes have to go. God and Fear cannot coexist.

“There is NO fear in Love. For perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18 ALL fear. It doesn’t say, “…except the fear of hell.”

If this scripture is true, and if God is Love, which I think we can all agree on, then there is no Fear in him. Period. Unless there’s an exception I’ve overlooked.

This is just food for thought. Sometimes hard and uncomfortable questions need to be asked, so I’m just gonna throw them out there.

Such as this question…How and why would a God who loves us create something as torturous and devastating as Hell?

Is He the same God who said “neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing...will be able to separate you from the Love of God which is IN Christ Jesus”… ?🤔 Sooo….

Is Hell a created thing? If it is, then even it won’t be able to separate us from the Love of God. Says the Bible.

But if fear of Hell played a part in how you met Him, like it did for me, it’s ok. It was still real, authentic, and good. Because God is real, authentic, and good.

He submits to our conformities and religious practices, because He is a respecter of our choices.

And because of how wide, long, high, and deep his love is for us, he will conform to our ideologies, doctrines, our statements of faith, our by-laws, our bulletins, our whatever’s…if that’s what it takes to reach us. Those particular boxes can get so cluttered, but he knows He has to meet us there. But then his Spirit of Truth will continue to pursue us and help us open our eyes in order to show us who he really is.

He turns the lights on from the inside out.💡💛💡💛

For some of us, God knows we’re not getting out of our box anytime soon. So He willingly climbs into it with us, and it’s there that we meet him.

Is that ok? Of course it is. Jesus will meet you wherever you’re comfortable. If you need a format, he’ll meet you in that box. If you need a checklist to check off on a clipboard, he’ll meet you there. If you need an organized service laid out in a bulletin, he’ll show up there too. If you need a step-by-step way to salvation, He’s ok with that. And if your only exposure to him is in the Gideon bible in the hotel room, you’ll find him if you’re looking for Him.❤️

Of course, He longs to show you more of who He is, but some of us need baby steps,✋🏽and He has to start with the basics.

If we could take off our church glasses, put them back in their box and seal that box up~we’d realize and accept and understand and embrace the fact that the road to God is much, much wider than we ever thought. That person you were kinda hoping was going to “get what they deserve” one day😨…might just be sitting next to you at God’s big table.😧

Some of us don’t want to be confined to a box anymore. It gets stiff and uncomfortable and just boring after a while.

I’ve known well-intentioned moms that grew up like me (in the evangelical world, etc) that are concerned that their child hasn’t been ‘saved’ yet. As if their eternal destiny relies on that infamous sermon that’s going to tip them over the edge and finally persuade them to believe.

I’m not sure we can see how vastly we limit God with that mindset.😥

Because really, haven’t they believed all along? Most kids have always believed, why wouldn’t they? They have an advantage in that they still have their childlike faith, something God urges us to hold onto as adults. Let’s not take that gift away from them in our attempt to make up their mind about God with our own skewed at times- opinions of who He is.

I totally get it though..our Type A personalities want something to hold onto, something concrete, something set in stone, that assures us our child has their ticket to Heaven. Once they slip that ticket into their pocket…we breathe a sigh of relief and life resumes to normal. And that becomes a problem.

Please be very careful to think this is the only way to God.

Certainty. We crave it. We also crave rules and regulations, and laws too, because it seems easier than just simple childlike trust. We’ve got to maintain some sense of control. We want formulas, something to follow in order to get results and outcomes.

But God has never been that rigid.

God had to meet me in a box for sure.📦

I grew up in one, so God knew he had to find me there. But it was a real encounter with Jesus, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was only seven, and He knew already what I’d been taught, introduced to; He knew the perspective I had already formed of him, based on things out of my control. He knew how he needed to reveal himself to me, what would make sense to me in my current box with it’s limited perspective. He knew how he’d been represented. Not all bad, but definitely not all good either.

He knew that my fragile heart needed to have ‘assurance’ that I would not be separated from him, because that’s what I’d been taught. He knew I didn’t have a clue, and wouldn’t realize for a long time that separation didn’t even exist.

I’ll say it again. I didn’t know back then that separation didn’t exist.

And decades later, I’m just now understanding why some things just never made sense. But the Holy Spirit continues to help me untangle lies and uncover Truth. It’s all a part of the unraveling.

I guess not all church kids come to Christ in the same way, but the ‘process’ does seem methodically and even eerily similar.

Do the majority of relationships with God in church kids begin in a state of FEAR?

I’m afraid many of them do.

I’m not saying this is how it always happens. But let’s face it, if your background is anything like mine, then you know what I’m talking about!

Picture this, I’m sure you’ve seen this before. Some denominations are notorious for this.

All the kids gather in a room to hear the salvation message. The pastor starts solemnly asking questions, and at some point he may ask the audience if there’s anyone who ‘doesn’t want to go to hell.’ Of course, hands pop up everywhere, because who would? 🤔The discussion continues as children start squirming in their seats. Then the invitation…close your eyes and bow your heads…then some raise their hands..some emphatically and some hesitantly and some that are doing it just for fun or curiosity or to be silly. All the while peeking around to see what everyone else is doing. Anyone else see a potential problem with this setting?

The kids with raised hands are then invited to a different location to talk further. Other kids start feeling insecure and under pressure because some of their friends are going to a different room for some reason. So, out of FEAR and insecurity of being left out or maybe missing something, they follow. There’s also probably a clipboard with a piece of paper, with boxes to check, confirming their decision.

Oh-and don’t forget the take home literature to review.😧

I’ve seen it a hundred times and I’m honestly not trying to be sarcastic. This is usually in the presence of many well-meaning and genuine people concerned for kids.❤️I just wonder if at some point we need to take a step back and assess what’s really going on.

And I do think many children are grateful that Jesus died on the cross for them, and they do want to spend eternity with him. But so many times fear is intertwined in their decision making process, which can produce a sense of urgency to give our lives to Jesus in a panic.

But God knew this would happen. And He’s not mad. And he’s going to reassure that child-that if there is a place of torment then of course he will save them from it.

But for a moment let’s take the consideration of the verses that mention the word ‘hell’ out of the picture, because the numerous translations and interpretations and inaccurate theology on the subject is another subject for another day.

Let’s just consider this simple fact~why would a God who is the very definition and essence of Love purposely prepare a place of eternal torment (because who else prepares it?) for those who don’t see eye to eye with him?

Would we do that for our own children? In most cases do children grow up and follow the paths we tried to pave for them as their parents?

Do we stop loving them if they don’t?

Even worse, would we purposely prepare a torture chamber for them because they didn’t follow our ways?

Don’t we sing the song “You’re a Good, Good Father” confidently and with passion? I believe that He is a good Father. But I have a hard time believing that a Good Father would sentence his children to be eternally tortured. If an earthly father did that, he definitely would not be labeled “good.”

Or, does God somehow continue loving us while simultaneously throwing us into hell? I’m confused. Or does He all of a sudden stop loving the very ones He created, the apple of his eye? The grand finale of His creation when He looked at us and said “This, is Very Good.

I didn’t know that LOVE could stop Loving.

I also wonder if the exclusiveness of our gospel has leaked into other areas of our lives and made us…exclusive?

Is that why non-religious people seem so much more accepting of different people groups, etc? Because they’re not constantly analyzing in their heads if they’ve done their quiet times more consistently that week than their Christian friends?

When our very existence lies within the framework of going to heaven or hell…unintentionally it becomes about ‘us’ and ‘them.’ We view the world from a seat of judgement. We don’t mean to. But it’s inevitable when separation of some sort is involved.

The other day I read a post from a very well-known and respected Christian public figure-that I myself admire and have always enjoyed listening to. I just no longer agree with how she interprets this verse:

I no longer think it will be ‘mandatory’ for everyone, in that it means “you better bow your knee or else” type of command. Because that too, would put us on the judgment seat~ because you know if we could witness this event there would inevitably be that one person in the crowd that yells, “See, I told you so!” 😆And let’s not pretend we wouldn’t be just the teeniest bit satisfied that we were right.

Instead, I think everyone will be joyfully and voluntarily involved in this event, because who says there’s a timeline on God’s pursual of us? Unfortunately, up until a few years ago, I would’ve interpreted this verse the exact same way. But I was viewing the world completely within the framework of Heaven and Hell, therefore I was interpreting it in a judgmental way.

The more the Holy Spirit helps me unravel, the more I realize how unbelievably BEHIND the eight-ball we are in our close-minded western culture than the rest of the world is.🌍

For decades now, different people groups and cultures have abandoned the idea of ‘exclusiveness’ and embraced the TRUE gospel, which is INCLUSIVENESS. Jesus IN everyone since the beginning of time. Christ IN us, from the cross, when all of humanity died WITH him, and when He rose, we also rose WITH him. God was IN Christ on the cross, reconciling the entire human race to Himself.❤️

It makes so much more sense to me to think of the cross in this way rather than God abandoning his son because he couldn’t look at him.

LOVE doesn’t abandon.

God was IN Jesus, on the cross, reconciling the world to Himself. There was never any separation. If so, where on earth was the Holy Spirit during this event? Just hanging out??🤔

Billy Graham. Probably the most well-known evangelist in modern-day history. I admired him and attended at least a couple of his famous crusades. As he neared the end of his life, many in his circle called him a heretic. Why? Because he had come to the conclusion that the road to God wasn’t as narrow as he had believed and preached about for decades.

In an interview he shared that he had come to the conclusion that some would be in Heaven with him that he may not have previously thought would’ve been included. People from all different religious backgrounds…Muslim, Buddhist, etc, as well as those who had never seen a Bible or heard of Jesus. Why? Because he saw the goodness in those people. He saw the Love of God reflected in them, even though they may disagree on exactly what that Love is. Check it out~it’s short😉👇🏽

God reveals himself to everyone in different ways, because he’s IN everyone because we were created in the very midst of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just because Adam made a wrong choice, didn’t obliterate that union.

John was Jesus’s closest friend while on earth. And he puts it very plainly in the very first verse in his book.

Father, Son, and Spirit, together from the beginning of time, creating us. Therefore there isn’t a person who can even exist apart from this relationship. Notice it says “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. Without Him nothing was made, so whether we like it or not, He’s there, and everyone lives, moves, and has their being IN Him.💜

The Good News?

We don’t have to receive Jesus~in that we ask him to come into our lives and hearts because he’s already received us into his. He’s there. He’s always been there. 💙

We can still “receive” the gift He is offering us, just as in the same way we can reject it. But it’s more of an understanding of who He is and what He has for us. An invitation to participate in the fellowship. Then we come to the realization of what we can take hold of~the abundant life~free of charge.

Don’t be surprised if God meets you outside of your box you’ve constructed in the near future. Don’t be afraid.

It’s ok to be caught off-guard and a little disoriented that He met you there for a little while. Only as long as you feel comfortable.

You don’t have to vacate and abandon the box altogether, you can step back in it when you need to until you feel confident that you can leave it completely.

Those boxes are still sacred and good because God was in them with you. And He’ll still be there because He knows you’ll have to revisit them occasionally.

When you discover that you no longer need that box for Him, He’ll hold your hand as you take the next step together. It’s ok to miss it for as long as you need to. You’ll find you’re ready to throw away some all together and keep some because they represent big parts of who you are. You’ll know which ones to dispose of and which ones to keep.

I’m excited to continue unlearning and relearning God together. Let’s trust the Holy Spirit to help us untangle lies and uncover Truth. In the process the True Gospel will be illuminated from the inside out. 💛💛

6 thoughts on “Boxes♡”

  1. This is literally what I have come to believe myself!!! I recently came to the conclusion that whenever a person seeks out God with their whole heart and mind and soul, they find Him, no matter what name they might give Him, or in what part of the world they live in….. C. S. Lewis made a similar statement in one of his Narnia books as well. Thanks for sharing this Laura! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ali❣️💖
      It’s taken literally years, even decades to unravel this Truth. And of course it’s always unraveling. I’m appalled at some of the things I used to believe about God. 😧We tend to make God who we want Him to be, and what we’ve imagined him to be looks strangely similar to…us. He doesn’t reflect us, we reflect Him. Thanks for reading Ali❣️😘

      Like

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