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Letting God into Your Box

• Greg Boyd

This week Greg again focused our attention on the story of the Magi from the east (Mt 2:1-11). God was willing to “get in the box” with these astrologers, to “speak their language” as it were, even though it required that God suspend his ethical opinions about their way of life. God’s love for astrologers was greater than his hatred for astrology.

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This week Greg again focused our attention on the Magi from the east (Mt 2:1-11). Once again, he brought out the rather stark “messy” aspects of the story. It doesn’t fit our “religious” expectations. While God clearly hates all forms of divination – astrology, psychics, etc. – he was willing not only to call astrologers from Persia to visit Christ, but to also use astrology as a means of doing this! Why? Because, as Greg said, his love for astrologers was greater than his hatred for astrology. He was willing to “get in the box” with these astrologers, to “speak their language” as it were, even though it required that God suspend his ethical opinions about astrology to do this!

This is what God does with all of us. He gets in our box. He comes down to our level. But it costs God something to do it. In fact, it costs God everything! This is what Calvary is all about. As much as the all holy God hates sin, he bears it for our sake, for his love for us sinners is greater than his hatred for our sin.

From this Greg brought out three points. First, we need to let God “in our box.” Whatever we are going through, however messy our lives may be, we can trust that God isn’t “too holy” to be willing to get involved. Greg even encouraged us to let God into messes we don’t yet want to be free of – that is, sin we don’t yet want to get rid of. For in letting the love of God into our life, we give God a chance to begin to change our wants and desires.

Second, Greg said that as soon as a person lets Christ “into their box”, they have an “impulse” to worship. When we experience God ascribing unsurpassable worth to us, despite our failings, we want to ascribe unsurpassable worth back to God. This is what worship is. What we have to offer in worship isn’t important, but the heart we have in offering it is. God accepted the gifts of the Magi as an act of worship, even though these gifts were purchased by occult money. While God doesn’t condone the way these astrologers earned their money, he honored the heart behind their offering and, by his grace, accepted it as worship. So it is with everything we sacrifice in ascribing worth to God. Our past, our time, our talent, our money… it all becomes “holy” when offered to God with a heart of praise. Greg contrasted God’s stance toward the Magi with many pastors stance last year toward the man who tithed from his lottery winnings to illustrate the point he was making.

Finally, Greg said that a person who has let Christ “into their box” has a Spirit-inspired calling to do the same to others. As Christ has loved us, we are to love others. Just as God suspended his own ethical opinions about astrology to “get in the box” with the astrologers, so we are to suspend our ethical judgments to “get in the box” with others. We are called to love without judgment. Greg used the illustration of the two prostitutes (Jane and Jenny) with the doctor (John Hughes) to illustrate this point.

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 2:1-11

    1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

    3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

    6 “ 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
    for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.' “

    7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

    9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

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