We’ve all heard the truism that great people achieve that status by “thinking outside the box” and I’ve been thinking that this is true for Christ-followers as well. It seems to me that the scriptures teach us that we all need to live outside the box in order to have a “successful,” fruitful Christian life. But there are two considerations…
Our First Consideration
We have to recognize that there is “a box” to live out of. If we aren’t aware that there is a system that would like to contain us, control us, and limit our spiritual effectiveness, we are being naïve and blind to the reality of what the Bible calls a spiritual war.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 (emphasis mine)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (emphasis mine)
Every Christian needs to be aware that the spiritual forces of wickedness, mentioned in the above verse, are fighting to keep us “boxed in.” Those forces want you pushed and pressed into a box. If you think you are not in a spiritual war, you are just plain mistaken.
Spend a moment or two in prayer right now. Ask God to identify “the box” in your life. Have you been manipulated to fit into a system outside God’s will for you?
“The box” is our perceptions of life, our culture, the system of acceptable thought, and the society that surrounds us – what the Bible calls “the world.”
So my first prayerful consideration needs to be, “are my thoughts, perceptions, values, desires, and goals of ‘the world system’ or of God?” Do I spend my time, talent, and treasure pursuing things of lasting spiritual value? Or am I trying to “fit in.” Do I watch TV shows and movies that bring my thoughts to spiritual concerns? Is the extent of my everyday thought life void of God?
The Apostle Paul directly warned each of us about “The Box” when he wrote to Christians in one of the most secular, humanistic, “sin-cities” of its day, Rome. In Romans 12:2, he warned, “Do not be conformed to this world…”
I find the word “conformed” to be a very interesting word. Think about it. It’s made up of two syllables… “con” and “formed”… (And I got such bad marks in my English classes!)… Literally it means “with” “shape.” So, is Paul talking about not being forced into a shape or form in accordance with the perceptions, values, desires, and goals of this world? Yes, indeed!
We could argue that just being alive in the twenty-first century automatically “forms” us. We might say that we must live in the box our society forces upon us. But we would be wrong. Remember those great people who “think outside the box?”
Fortunately for us, Paul continues his sentence in Romans 12:2, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Through God’s inspirational lead, Paul is giving us the solution to being forced into a spiritual box by the world system around us.
Our Second Consideration
Are we in the process of “transforming” our minds? That word, again, gives us an interesting perspective consisting of two concepts, “outside” “shape.” Where does my mind dwell? What am I consistently thinking about? We could all ask ourselves the question, “Have I allowed God to control, consume, and correct my thought processes?” This is what Paul is talking about.
Spiritually, we can and should be living and thinking “outside the box” of this world’s system of sin, confusion, uncertainty, and frustration.
This perception has been called, “The Christian World View” or “Biblical World View” and basically means that when we encounter and interact with our everyday lives we have an overlay of perception that is “outside the box” of what the spiritual forces of wickedness from Ephesians 6:12 would like us to have.
As Christ-followers we literally transform the way we think about our environments and circumstances and renew our minds to all that God has for us in the way of spiritual strength and blessings.
This is the best of “living outside the box” and will make us extraordinary in our Christian experience. As Paul points out in the rest of Romans 12:2,
“…so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Is your life experience tainted by the earthly, worldly, secular, “box” around you? Or, are you in a constant state of thinking outside that box and filling your mind with God’s Word? Do we see people with God’s eyes of love and concern? Do we perceive our circumstances as opportunities to give God glory? Are we considering how God can use us and His Word in us in every situation of our lives? That’s living outside the box!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Think about it…