Living Outside The Box

July 18, 2004
by Ruth McCowan

Matthew 5:43-45a – You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (NRSV)

At a recent conference that I attended, I was reminded about how easy it is to look for answers within our box of understanding. Often it is not until we look beyond the box that we discover the answer to the problem. One example of this is the statement "God is nowhere". What do you see? Some may read "God is nowhere" and others may read, "God is now here". If we look at it only from within the box, we will see it only one way, and we may miss the real message.

In Jesus' ministry, he was continually challenging people to look beyond the box. In today's Scripture, he says, "You have heard that it was said … but I say to you …". In each of these verses, he broadens our understanding. He takes an accepted rule and fills it out so that it becomes more inclusive. When we stick to the accepted rule, the box of understanding, we limit God, and we limit ourselves. By looking outside the box, we are introduced to a whole new vision of possibilities.

In our relationships, it is so easy to try to make people fit into our mould, but the difficulty comes when we meet people who don't actually fit in our box. We all know people like this. These are the ones who don't follow the rules. They come in all sizes and ages. It's easy to discard these people as just being "difficult", but our challenge is learn how to love them and to find ways to connect with them.

Prayer: Loving God, we thank You for all the different people in Your creation. Help us to appreciate everyone, and teach us to look beyond our own understanding — to look beyond the box. Grant us patience and grace to live beyond the box in our lives. Amen.

About the author:

Ruth McCowan <rbmccowan@shaw.ca>
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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