New Year: God Set Free

Boxes are great things. They make it possible for me to send two odd-shaped presents to my grandchild in one postal container! They keep pasta from falling all over the floor as it makes it journey from the store shelf to my cooking pot. Boxes make great containers but they are not so good at describing people. People do not fit in boxes well. When it comes to identifying Jesus, a box fails miserably.

The disciples wanted to name Him a rebel. But Jesus told them to pay their taxes. (Matthew 22) The Pharisees thought He was just a small town carpenter. But He ran ‘theology circles’ around them! Jesus was a Jew that ate with Gentiles. He was a teacher that did not teach inside the church but on hillsides. He was holy and yet called politicians, IRS personnel, prostitutes, and people like me His friends. They tried to label Jesus and they couldn’t. We still try.

I can arrange all my personal doctrines neatly around me for comfort and give Jesus a pillow so He can join me. When elections draw near, Jesus becomes an unintentional supporter as the politician tries to paint Jesus as conservative, hawk, dove, green, blue, and red.

God-in-a-box is one that I can predict. In a world out of control, I want God’s presence to be like a cuddly kitten or lap dog.

After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light. Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with him.

Peter answered, and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, let’s make three tents here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. Behold, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were very afraid.        Matthew 17:1-6 (WEB)

Peter wanted to put Jesus (and Moses and Elijah) in a box. He wanted to contain them just as we try to contain Jesus inside the church. We can go and visit Jesus when we need help or want to socialize with Him. Peter’s suggestion was so ‘out there’ to God that He spoke before Peter could shut his mouth. God identified Jesus as the beloved son. Jesus wasn’t one of 3-4 but THE ONE! “I, the LORD, am pleased with my beloved Son so LISTEN TO HIM!” “Hush, Peter. Hush, Jody. Listen! Don’t talk!”

When the disciples heard God, they fell to the ground in Holy Fear. When was the last time that you had such a moment in your prayers or as you were worshiping on Sunday? When you experienced how BIG God truly is? When Jesus is big, my fears are not. As I become more in awe of God, my difficulties and worries become more small. Jesus-in-my-box will fit on whatever shelf I want to park Him but He does not conquer my tormenters.

I need a transfigured Christ. I need God who speaks with a voice of thunder when He whispers to my heart. I need my Friend to take me up to the mountain to give me a glimpse into the promised heaven.

Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?
Yahweh is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers came at me to eat up my flesh,
even my adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell.
Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.
Though war should rise against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I have asked of Yahweh, that I will seek after,
that I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to see Yahweh’s beauty, and to inquire in his temple.       Psalm 27:1-4 (WEB)
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