Our life is full of parameters. They are introduced to us at an early age by our parents and then they are expanded throughout our lives. There are parameters about how we need to drive (speed-limits, lines dividing lanes of traffic, makers telling us when we can and cannot pass, signs telling us when to stop and when to go). There are parameters about our social responsibility and behaviour (dress codes, rules about public displays of affection, the Samaritan Law, table manners). There are parameters in the work place (proper sexual conduct, use of company property, how much time you get for brakes and how many times/year you are allowed to be sick).
We are a people of parameters. It only makes sense that we would try to translate that into our religious practices as well. In Christian circles, the extreme of this is call legalism. This happens when the entirety of one’s religious experience is dominated by lists of rules and regulations. Legalistic Christians are lovers of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” statements. Thou shalt wear a suit on Sunday mornings. Thou shalt not
To be honest, I have no time or patience for legalism. It takes the focus off of what is really important: teaching people to be fully devoted followers of Christ who are committed to sharing the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.
Unfortunately, even I employ legalism from time-to-time in my Christian walk, as do you I am sure. We probably apply it most unwittingly to God himself. We put parameters around God. This may happen innocently enough or because we’ve adopted them from our families or even our churches. But one thing the Bible has shown us so far, and will continue to show us, is that God does not fit into our parameters. Solomon, in his wisdom, recognized this. In 2 Chronicles 2 he says: “But who is able to build a temple for Him, since even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Him?” We would be wise to consider the truth of this statement and be careful of the parameters we place on God, who he is, how he works or how he speaks.
Many of our “holy cows” in the church (“holy cows” is the phrase we used in college to talk about things/programs/rules in the church that people cling to, like pulpits or ties or organs) come out of our parameters, try to put limits on how God should or can behave and are in actuality not honouring to God at all.
Heaven can’t contain him, so why should he fit inside our parameters? You want to know the truth about parameters? We build them to make ourselves comfortable, to give us something “solid” to cling to, to give us constancy. The only problem is that our comfort, stability and constancy should always come from God. The statement “I am” should be all the parameter we need.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4