Some things belong in a box. The past year has seen a lot of boxes in the Frost household. Loading and carrying, driving and storing, unloading and unpacking, and then doing it again. Packing and unpacking … some things belong in a box. How about people? Are two boxes enough, one for those who divide the world into two kinds of people and one for those who don’t? Is putting people in boxes always wrong? Putting people in a box – frankly it can be helpful or unhelpful. It can be helpful if it promotes understanding and love. There are different personality test and spiritual gifts inventories that are useful in team-building and promoting understanding and effectiveness. I have used these often and continue to be informed by them. But they are ultimately unhelpful if it makes me see people as objects. Are they an INTP or an ESFJ? Are they an otter or an owl? Do they have the gift of helps or of teaching? Is this ultimately useful? How do I know? How can I tell if the way I think about people is helpful or not? I think I need to ask “where do I end up?” As useful as boxes are, even things aren’t supposed to END UP in a box, how much more true for people. So, if at the end of the day the people I am thinking about are in a neat and convenient box useful for shelving, categorizing or discarding then the box or category is not meeting its intended use.
This past Sunday I quoted God’s address to Job. After a long and tortuous road Job finally gets to hear from God directly:
“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8)
I said Sunday, and I say again, this behavior is at the root of many if not all “boxes” and also of conflicts between people of good will. That is, my desire to justify myself is so strong that I will condemn anyone and everyone, even God Himself, if I am not secure in my identity in Christ.