I recently ordered some new office supplies, and when they were delivered, the box was MUCH larger than I had expected. Worried that I had ordered either the wrong products, or the wrong size, I was hasty to open the box up.
Turns out, the order was correct, but the majority of the box was empty, stuffed with those plastic bubbles filled with air. An entirely new product designed to be an empty bag of air—not a cushioning bubble wrap or protective peanuts, or even crumpled paper.
And while I appreciate the benefit of limiting the number of box sizes, it made me wonder about the acceptance of the emptiness, the void, the vast space, needing to be filled with more empty space, in order to conform to some arbitrary standards of convenience.
It made me wonder if sometimes our theology is like that. A little bit of substance, and a bunch of extra space, fitted into someone else’s standard size. What we use to fill up that requisite space may be equally unsubstantial; or even worse: it’s forced to be filler, to the point of wasting other resources.
So how do we then, respond to our theological boxes?
Do we consider changing the size? Shifting away from the norm of box size—or someone else’s theological constructs—may not be easy, but it’s one way to reduce the useless filler.
Maybe we don’t even want to be IN a box (I’m a big fan of outside-the-box thinking)! Maybe our shape is a sphere, or tube, or some other form.
Perhaps our response is instead to change the content of the box. We might increase our theological substance in such a way to decrease the necessity for filler.
Alternatively, we can choose what filler we might use—re-use something already existing, find something that can then be of future benefit, maybe for ourselves or for others.
Whatever we do, I hope that we can recognise in our lives that God has priority status; that God is the purpose of the theological box, not something tiny that’s lost in the corner. I hope we can adjust our own theology in such ways that we know it doesn’t need to be limited by society’s accepted norms, or stuffed with arbitrary useless filler. I hope we can reject the complacency that accepts a void to be filled unproductively.
I hope we can always see the potential to grow in our faith, to change whatever framework the world would assign to us, and to live our faith such that no filler is needed.