You put God in a box. And so do I.
We don’t do it on purpose, or even consciously, of course, but because we are finite beings it’s impossible for us not to. And all our boxes look different; they’re constructed by our upbringing and our church backgrounds (or lack thereof); by our relationships and our media consumption; by the way we read Scripture and pray (or don’t do those); and by a host of other things which would be impossible to name them all.
These boxes say “God is like this, but not like that” or “God does this, but doesn’t do that” and such things. And invariably they contain both a lot of truth about God and a lot of untruth, even lies.
But because our boxes are all made up differently and because we all carry one, one of the great things that I’ve noticed about including more people into my life and into the groups I’m part of is that our “God-in-the-boxes” crash against each other. And as they crash together my box actually expands and grows – even splinters, and cracks open. And God becomes bigger in my life. Becomes more of who He is and who He wants to be in my life.
Now, if this is true for me then I can reasonably expect that it is also true for you. While this doesn’t mean we will always agree with everyone, which is a good thing, it does mean that we don’t need to be hesitant to include others. Rather, we should be eager to do so, knowing that we will see more of God because of them.
It also means that we need to learn to listen well. Not to discount or shrug people off when they don’t agree with us. Part of what breaks our boxes as they collide is our differing opinions. So, what does the Indigenous Christian, or the Latino Christian, or the Indian or African or other non-Western Christian say about God? What does the Calvinist or the Arminian say about Him? What do poor or wealthy Christians say? What do LGBQT Christians say about God, even?
One of the beautiful things about the Kingdom of God is its diversity – which we’ll finally experience to its full extent at the End of Time, when we’ll be able to say with St. John:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””