Jesus was so different that people expected God to be that they had a hard time recognizing him as God. The very leaders who had studied scripture the most, who one would have thought would immediately say, "This is our God," are the very ones who persecuted him,, questioned him and eventually had a hand in having him crucified. Maybe Jesus gave acceptance to our own out of the box people by being outside of our own human expectations.
Jesus was accused of not being spiritual because he ate and drank and hung round with the unacceptable, ""The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." Matthew 11:19
Jesus touched the unacceptable, the lepers, hung around with tax collectors, used the uneducated, common fishermen to lead his movement. Jesus honored women for seeking him in a time when women were put down. He saved an adulterous woman from being stoned, and had a prostitute in his inner circle of friends. He associated with the Samaritans when the Jews considered them below them, of a different religion.
Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus was, "the exact representation of God," so we know He was living the true values of God.
Jesus honored a Roman centurion and said, "I have not seen greater faith in all of Israel." This was an honor to the man who believed and a little bit of a slight to those who should know him but did not choose to believe.
Jesus even chose a brash, loud, bumbling man to be his "rock." He allowed a man who would betray him into his group of disciples. This God is beyond my imagination, but he is definitely out of the comfort zone of my own life and daily challenges me to look at people and at life, not by human standards, but by His own values.
Perhaps this is why Jesus was the one who understood my Nathan and other "different" kids--and it was He, God who taught me how to love my very mysterious child. My different little boy always taught me a lot about God being out of the box, just like he was. I have told this story many times.
One cold, snowy winter's day, Nathan, then 14, and a budding philosopher, was drinking a cup of hot chocolate in our kitchen. He said, "I'm so glad our God is out of the box in our home!"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, a lot of people we know act like God is mad or disappointed with us when we are not perfect. I'm even afraid of some of your mama friends and I sometimes feel like I might get in trouble just for being with them."
"It feels to me like lots of people we know think that God is more concerned about a rule to be kept and behavioral standard of quietness and respect to keep--knowing all the rules and keeping them or the right theological answers to give."
"I am so glad the God we believe in is the One who created chili peppers for fajitas, Celtic music to dance to, puppy dogs to be snuggled, jokes for giggling, and stars to be amazed at when we sleep outside to gave on a starlit night. We enjoy Him and celebrate Him in our home and look for his fingertips in creation and his love over all the places of our lives. He is wild and out of the box, we just can't contain him in small places. He is out of the box, just like me."
I was so thankful that is what he perceived in our home--that God was indeed a real person, more than just one who cared about the rules we kept. He was the one who created delight, the fulfillment of thinking great thoughts, the sweetness of learning to show love gently, the fun of giggling uncontrollably.
We began to focus on Him,—a personal creator-God, filled with infinite ideas of ways to fill our world with things to enjoy beauty to be explored, life to be lived to the fullest. In looking at God, we created place where Nathan could feel he belonged with all of his bigger-than-life personality, no matter how many questions he asked.
God condemned the pharisees for being men of law and no compassion for the downhearted, the poor, the lame and sick--without a heart for the things that mattered to the true God. They were more concerned about keeping law than loving God or loving and serving people. Their focus was all that was inside the box of life and how to keep it all there--under control.
Why has my life been so changed by celebrating life with Nathan, my different child, and all the other different ones that are my kids? Because they stretched my faith, taught me life lessons, showed me the inner value of every person I meet. They taught me to look at God who is out of the box and so much more and bigger than my little mind can comprehend.
My different kids expressed awe inspiring reverence as at the beauty of a snowflake and delight in the colors and variety of springtime flowers, giggles at our puppy fluffy and soft--and they taught me that these elements express His personality.
God does not want to be just a thought to know, but a personally engaging friend and Father whose relationship with us is fills us with memory, delight, and moments to be experienced and enjoyed.
Holy--to be set apart, not conforming to the world, but being transformed--by the wild and uncontainable God and following His lead, whatever path it takes.......
Our family tends to think and live out of the box--we discuss everything and challenge all Christian thought and live wildly, hysterically, celebrating-ly, with feasts and lots of freedom, within the walls of our home.
I do love to move beyond the "expectations" and figure out what really is authentic in life, what really matters, how to experience the joy we were designed to know, every day, and to see the God that is not a tame lion--
Hmmmm Jesus pretty much upset those who lived in the box of his day--as a matter of fact, he got crucified for being out of the box, and not fitting in with the "leaders."
When the life of Jesus is in our midst, there is a palpable crackle in the air, a sparkle to the lights and shadows of His dance amongst us.
Imagine--the creator of the universe--the one who played games with galaxies and atoms, romantic love and sunsets--He in our midst.
He did not create us to live in the limitations of ourselves. He came to give life--and life abundantly. The joy of the Lord is to be our strength--and yet--what have the voices of this world done to our joy?
So, I ask you today--are you finding deep fulfillment and a bubbling up of love from deep within because you are resting in, enjoying your God who loves you and loves all of your children including the different ones?
Are you able to rest even with the mysterious ones in your home, without knowing what lies ahead--but able to trust Him who does hold the universe together?
Is there a feeling of heaven meeting earth in your home right where you are today? Are you sensing the pleasure of God as you see the color of a winter sky? The beauty surrounding the moments of your life?
It is only in pursuing Him, the Life that coming into the world, enlightens every man--not rules or laws or formula or morality---but the Person--who has so very much more to offer.
All he asks is for us to leave all behind, and sell all that we have to grasp and hold fast to the pearl of great price who stretches us to live outside the box of human limits, so that we might rest in His greatness.
But, to find Him and to live vibrantly in the reality of His ways and His presence, requires living out of the box of human thought, and into the infinite ways of His true Self.
As C.S. Lewis says, "He is not a tame lion, but He is good."
So, how about your God? In the box or out?
Kristen and I did not have a chance to do the podcast this week amidst book deadlines, trips to New York and a conference. But we will be back soon.
A favor please? Today is the last day of our launch and we are going to be celebrating the coming out of our book all day.
Would you please consider sharing about it online in your places?
We are hoping to end this great week with a boom so many can find comfort in the words and stories we have shared.