“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18
Thinking Out of the (Pine) Box
For years now the term “thinking outside of the box” has become widespread to represent the ability to incorporate new ideas that seem to come from outside of one’s experience, familiarity, or culture. It is attractive to think that one can escape the consistency of the past and interject new, fresh ideas, new perspectives that are beyond one’s understandings. “Thinking outside of the box” almost seems easy on the surface of it, for all that it means is an embracing of new ideas that are beyond our socio-cultural world views. Ergo the problem. How does one get outside of the box that encompasses all humanity?
By definition, box walls are barriers not only inhibiting one’s ability to be able to get out but also are obstructions to being able to see beyond. Humans can infinitely postulate what exists beyond the box wall, but we will always be limited by what we are thinking within the box. While we learn and grow in our understanding of our world and universe, our container forms the reality within which we operate. We can reformulate, reconsider, and try new perspectives, but the raw materials of our view remain the same. When one is in a box, it is the reality.
Paul is well aware of the limited view that this temporary, physical creation holds for its inhabitants. To perish was being in the box, pine, stone, or jade, death in this creation meant the same thing across the board, and resurrection was just too far out there for most Romans or, today, for most Americans. The message of the cross, of dying to save, of surrendering life to live, did not seem to compute. All things living, not to mention humanity, know death as a container whose boundaries are absolute: resurrection, foolishness.
At one point in his life, Paul saw only the foolishness, and then the miraculous happened, a bolt from outside the boundaries of creation’s solid walls broke through his barriers. The risen Lord shattered Paul’s world view with a perspective from outside death’s casket. Jesus, God’s word from outside created limitations had burst through the darkness of death and sin: God sent someone from outside the box so that we could honestly think beyond the boundaries of our imagining. Easter is the celebration of the liberation of the human spirit to align with and alight on the heart of God in Jesus Christ.
Who would have thought that the real outside the box view could exceed and transform our in the box thinking so much: the least are the greatest, the meek inherit, death passes into life. In every instance, our expectation around the corner of the box is to meet the strong, stern face of power, like a lion, but what we find peering back at us on Easter morning is the gentle, humble face of victory in the Lamb.
Happy Resurrection Sunday! May you and yours be truly blessed by God’s outside of the box presence. In Jesus’s name, let it be, AMEN.
Yours in Christ,