Outside the Box, Inside the World


We’ve all heard the term “Think outside the box” and we have all tried our fair share of doing just that in order to be different, competitive or rebellious. It’s one thing to “think” our way to a different path or solution, but a lot harder to “live outside the box.”

So, what is the box? It can be anything that society says is the only way to accomplish a particular goal, attempt a great feat or solve a difficult problem. The problem, however, is that we spend so much time thinking that we limit our ability of doing, and specifically, living outside the box.

Consider the man who created peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (I really don’t know who that was.) For the longest time, jelly was used on breads or crackers as a delicacy. Marmalades date back to the 1500s, used by the kings and queens for medicinal purposes as well as sweet fare as a product of their gardens as luxury.

Peanut butter has known recorded usage by Inca Indians. My theory is that they made it so infants and toddler could better ingest to avoid choking. It has carried on into name brand spreads like Jiffy and Peter Pan. I personally, keep a jar in my car just in case!

Yet one day, someone said “let’s try combining peanut butter and jelly” and voila - the PB&J sandwich was born. However, they did not only think about this new concept, they put into practice. They tested it. They perfected it. They ate, drank it and slept it. You could say they lived it. Now, it’s a staple meal for children and adults everywhere. They even have fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at state fairs across the country!

When we consider ministry in our fast-paced, ever-changing culture, we are confronted with the problem of trying to reach people in the midst of their busy schedules, wounded hearts and skeptical minds. We are challenged to think differently. We are called by God to live differently and serve people in the midst of their fury, fears and futility. 

Church work is the Lord’s work but the Lord’s work goes beyond church. It is in the heart of a fast-paced sales call center. It is in a catty environment of a hospital. It is in the heart of our state capitols, on the house floor where people pass laws that will affect the Lord’s work. 

If we truly want to make a difference in our culture and society, we must “become all things to all people in order to win some” as the great Apostle Paul declared! We must not only think creatively but live creatively in order that a few may join the Kingdom. 

Not everyone will, but for the few we shall persist. For the few, we choose to look at ministry differently, to reach a world so distracted by games, toys and self-love. If we don’t, who will?

The 21st Century needs Kingdom leaders to lead outside the box of how church was done before. Consider Jesus - He did not live inside the church. He lived near the people who were hurting, lost and damaged. On the hillsides, by the lake, on the sea and in the marketplace. Jesus lived outside the box - will you?

Matthew A. Butter is an itinerant preacher/published writer in the San Antonio area, IT Enterprise Account Executive and licensed Insurance Planner. In addition, he is married to Sonya, who has the big job of homeschooling their three children.

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