Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Outside the Box


The phrase “thinking outside the box” is usually taken to mean someone who is not limited in their thought process to conventional ideas. Seldom is consideration given to what is meant by the “box”. Life today is very much more circumscribed than for most of human history. For most today life consists of school and work. The song “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds in the early 1960s captures some of the reductionism of modern life. Sadly, this has also occurred to Christian practice as well.

Most Christians live their Christian life as an extension of one denomination or another. This was not what was intended (1 Cor 1:11-13). This “package” or “box" approach to Christianity has some drawbacks. Perhaps the biggest is presenting a particular Christian brand as right, complete, or finished. While some might be closer to truth than others, Christianity was not meant to be completed by someone else so that the individual could just accept it. Christianity was always supposed to be about each individual trusting in Jesus and growing in Christ-likeness (Eph 2:8-9, Eph 4:11-13). The package approach tends towards the static.

A second problem with the “box” or package approach is that it can become like other religions where you are supposed to get something as a result of doing something (like Islam’s paradise for following the five pillars or Hinduism’s karma credits) A Christian brand is often presented as a finished work that someone else has done such as. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Moody, Grahm, MacArthur, or others. There are usually some minimal works that are required such as baptism, church membership and attendance, having really repented, said a particular prayer, tithing, or sacramental observance that assures one of a place in heaven. However, works were never intended as requirements (Col 2:20). Perhaps the best way to measure the Christian life is to gauge how much one becomes more like Christ over time. Christian brands often fail to encourage or facilitate this individual growth.

A third problem is that the person who designed the box or package may not have been completely right or accurate. For example, one can be told that water baptism of an infant guarantees that the child is placed into the body of Christ and is destined for heaven. However, if this is not accurate, it would seem a rather important point on which to trust in an assumption.

The way to think outside the box is not so much a matter of finding the right or different box, but to develop two parallel skills, inquiry and assessment. These skills were demonstrated by the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11). When questioning assumptions to see if they are true, the bible is the best tool to use as it is truth (John 17:17). It can be tricky because one has to be careful about who says what to whom and for what purpose so that misunderstanding can be minimized. For example, Jesus told his disciples that those that believed on him would do greater works than he did (John 14:12). Since no believers today do greater works than Jesus, the application may be for a future time such as when the kingdom is established on earth. It may also only apply to the remanent of Jews who finally accept Jesus as their king.

Not digging into things and just being told what to accept is easy. However, the risk is high if what you are told is inaccurate. The bible does not portray the Christian life as one of ease. We each have the responsibility to seek out what is true so that we can grow in Christ-likeness. A vital Christian life is one that is immersed in God’s word so that it can work in us (Is 55:10-11), a prayerful appeal to God for guidance, wisdom, and understanding (James 1:5), and continual seeking, questioning, and assessing. This vital and vigilant Christian life is especially necessary as we are told that a time will come when many will abandon what is true;

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4



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