You can’t keep God in a box.
Half way down Main Street was an old, famous store, a community landmark for as long as anyone could remember. A white marble colonnade adorned the front, and inside were the most amazing goods for sale. It was The God Store.
Almost everyone had been to the God Store and bought something at one time or other. Satisfied customers only bought once. If they went back it was just to show their friends or to browse and see what was new. Other customers, never satisfied, went back again and again to buy something different to add to their collection.
I stepped in one day to get myself a god. A tall, refined sales clerk walked up to help me. “What kind of god are you looking for?” she asked.
I had played around too much before. This time I was serious, and I said, “One that will be with me all the time. One that will give me a purpose. One that will change my life and be worthy of my devotion.”
“What kind of price range are you working with?” she asked.
“How much are you willing to pay?”
“Well. . . . I suppose whatever it costs.”
She smiled and said, “Let’s just take a look and see what interests you.” She showed me the box of the Money god. It looked like marble but was really plastic, tightly sealed and very heavy.
Then she showed me the Allah god box. It was big and beautiful and took a full shelf space for itself with all the attached manuals.
She showed me the Hindu god box. It was actually hundreds of small boxes all threaded together to resemble a big box. And each little box had its own price tag.
She showed me the New Age god box. Beautifully wrapped, it was a convenient size, complete with a carrying handle. A label on the side read: “Contents assigned to be whatever the owner wants them to be.”
She showed me the Pleasure god. It didn’t even have a box, just a jumble of shiny bags tied together. A pungent-sweet perfume seeped out of one bag and smelled delicious at first. But it grew stronger and stronger until I started to choke.
Along one side of the store was the “Addiction Section.” Some gods there were in cages, some in bottles, others in bags. “I don’t think I want anything here,” I said. So we passed by.
A number of other god boxes sat behind their labels on shelf after shelf, extending far back into the store. She showed me the “Sports Section,” the “Automobile Section,” the “Power Section,” the “Work Section” and the “Self Section.” She looked at me for a hint of interest. But none of them seemed like what I needed.
“We have variations on many of these,” she said. “And they can be modified to suit customer taste.”
But I just shook my head. I needed a god that was bigger than I was.
Then I saw an enormous box with light beams spilling out of it.
She noticed me looking at it and said, “That one is quite different.” It bulged out and back in, and whatever was inside was obviously alive. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
“Let me be honest, Ma’am. I need a pretty big god. I’m not going to pretend that feeling happy is enough or that I can get by with just programming the god or coaxing it to do nice things for me.”
She looked at me with an “I-know-what-you-need-but-I-don’t-know-if-you-can-handle-it” look and turned toward the enormous box. I was eager to see it but afraid of what was inside. She looked at me, lowered her eyebrows, and said, “You sound like you need to be what they call ‘saved.’”
Whatever that meant, I nodded, and she led me to the enormous box.
Without speaking, she showed me the price tag.
I gasped. It had no dollar figures like the others. The tag only said, “Everything you have.”
“I’ll let you think about it,” she smiled and walked away.
I thought. And I thought. That was an awful price. But maybe it was the only honest price for what a person needed. Everything I had. The more I thought, the less difference it made. I knew what I had to do, and I marched out the store.
Soon after I came back into The God Store with a thick envelope containing all the money, investments, and owner’s certificates I possessed. The clerk spotted me and smiled. The strange thing was that when I handed her the envelope I had no doubts or second thoughts.
She called out, “Could I have some help with the Almighty God, please?” Several other customers stared. Two men came from a back room and started muscling the box onto a flat cart. Then the box exploded. It—blew—up. The lid hit the ceiling and light rays shot out all over the store. “This happens every time,” the clerk sighed. The two men cowered until it was over. Then they started wheeling the box toward the front door.
She looked at me sincerely, “If you take it seriously or pay any attention to it, this sort of thing will happen quite often.”
I had to ask. “Have you ever had customers buy this Almighty God and come back for refunds or to get a different god?”
She looked me in the eye and shook her head. “No. Some have looked and tested, and not bought because it was too much for them. But no one has ever brought one back.”
The men finally put the lid back on. But it popped off again.
I looked at her and she said, “If you’re willing, you’ll love it. But let me give you a piece of advice. Whatever you may think or pretend, this God will never stay in the box, not in this box or any other.”
For Thought and Discussion
- When people limit their understanding of who God is and how he acts, it is said that they’ve put God in a box. In what ways do non-Christians put God in a box? In what ways do Christians put God in a box? In what ways have you put God in a box?
- Job 38:2 and the following chapters express God’s almighty power in creating and maintaining all things. What makes God so different from the other gods?
- As is said in Ephesians 3:20–21, in what ways have you experienced or heard of God working beyond your or others’ expectations? In what ways could you trust God to do this?