Staring At Rectangles

Have you ever wondered why people love and long to look out windows?  As I pondered this question a few things become clear to me.  In the first place, most windows are rectangular.  I have looked through many windows in my life; most of them have been shaped this way.  Most of those windows are made of see through glass, as it would not be much of a window if you could not see through it.  Even in the case of stained glass, it is see through in order to let the light shine through to enhance the beauty of the art.  The rectangles we call windows act as portals through which we see into another environment.  They can be sweet escapes. 

Windows let light into what are dim areas; they remind us there is more outside the room we are in at the moment.  Rectangular windows have a way of bringing needed perspective.  Let me paint a scenario most can understand.  For forty hours a week you are in a cramped office, school or factory with little natural light.  In the midst of your activities you encounter issues, problems and the human stuff that often times over takes your thoughts to such a degree that even the drive home seems immersed in them.  This goes on for weeks, months and years and although you have the weekend to look forward too, the grind and its drive can overwhelm, yet wait, you see it… a rectangular window, with light that is calling you over.  As you look through this rectangular escape, you see the sun is shining and birds are flying.  You feel warmth as you lean against the pane of glass and see a vast expanse of sky in all its blue beauty and you long to be outside instead of in your cramped, dim circumstance.  As you think of the monumental problems of your day and the difficulties of your inside undertakings, you realize by looking outside that the issues in light of creation, even the little bit you can see, are not so monumental.  In just a two minute view through your rectangular escape you feel the tightness in your chest decompress.

As we consider the power of these little perspective checks in our lives, we must deal with the need to follow what we see outside.  Many who look out windows for a little decompression find themselves too busy to follow their heart outside, missing all the blessing that cannot be contained in their little glass rectangle.  Our rectangles may periodically decompress our life, but if the light coming through is not followed outside, your rectangle may become stumbling block to what is really necessary; to get outside to see the immeasurable majesty of creation and embrace the blessings of God.  I realize this may sound a bit like a tree hugging plea to get back to God’s creation, but it is not.  It is a plea to consider how the rectangles, even windows, we look through can be a hindrance to walking in what God calls us too.  If we are constantly staring at rectangles, our world actually shrinks and we need not look far to see we are a people of rectangles.

Every day we wake up after sleeping in beds that are rectangles, walk through countless doors that are rectangles and look through windows that are rectangles.  We drive in cars that from bird’s eye view… yes look like rectangles.  We read books that are rectangles, talk on phones, read from phones and watch on phones that are rectangles.  In fact through T.V., computers, tablets and cell phones we spend ridiculous amounts of time looking through rectangular windows.  Out of all these rectangles the most biblical one in my humble opinion would be the book rectangle, for it is where can encounter the written Word of God.  One of my favorite scriptures is in II Corinthians 3:18 where the Word of God declares, “We all, with unveiled face, as in a glass (mirror “rectangle”), behold the glory of the Lord and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord”.  One must recognize this is not necessarily in reference to the Bible, but that beautiful rectangular book is the best place to start beholding the face of Christ.  The passage itself transcends the reading of the written Word, which gives us a window to encounter the Living Word, Jesus Christ, face to face in communion.  This of course takes a deeper journey than just reading.  At some point the Written Word, the beautiful rectangle that it is, must lead to encountering the Living Word of God who cannot be contained on the pages of Holy Writ.  In order to encounter the full majesty and glory of the One True God, we must walk with the Holy Spirit through the rectangular window of the written Word.  This leads to my main idea; American Christians must be careful not to miss the very Savior we say we pursue in the dimmer light of all our modern rectangles.

A few weeks ago, while I was away at the Christian and Missionary Alliance General Council, I saw in person the power of rectangles and in fact the addictive quality of them.  For those of you who have no idea what the C&MA General Council is, let me briefly explain.  Every two years most of the ministers and lay delegates from the Christian and Missionary Alliance gather in a city (this year it was Tamp Bay) to hold meetings.  These meetings have necessary denominational business, times of prayer, times of worship, times of preaching and times where God moves by His Spirit.  At these meetings God was moving by His Spirit, yet could even that be missed by rectangles?  What really impressed me was how dependent (I could say addicted) many of the ministerial and lay delegates have become to their rectangular windows.  During business and worship times I saw many constantly looking to their phones and tablets.  Some I am sure were taking notes, but many others were surfing the internet, playing games, tweeting clever comments and answering emails.  What ever did the man of God do 30 years ago before they were constantly connected to everyone in the world with a rectangular device?  My question is not for the sake of being a curmudgeon, as I am probably too young to be longing for the good old days where we walked up hill four miles and ate dirt to survive.  I am asking all who read this, how is your rectangle enhancing your connection to God?  Sure you can connect with a congregation member instantly, but maybe we need to teach them to connect to God instantly.  Sure we can find information as fast as our connection can take us, but is that information taking us where He wills us to go and do what He desires. 
            
Let’s be honest, we can all recite, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct your paths”, but that passage implies we wait on the Lord for His direction, that we cultivate an ear to hear His instruction.  This is wildly difficult when our flesh pulls us to connect whenever there is an unfilled moment.  Can I say God does not tweet, but He leads His listening children moment by moment if they are in tune with Him (Romans 8:14).  So as good as rectangles can appear, they do hinder our getting to where the real blessing lies.  Is Jesus church better off for our use of rectangles in the American Church?  Are they really enhancing the way we explain the gospel?  Are we seeing them at the fore of a massive revival or are they just a clever way to make us feel relevant and less bored?            

At our General Council a seasoned and Holy Spirit filled man of God, spoke the burden of the Lord.  His message brought business to a standstill, prayer was offered.  Our outgoing President suggested we pray further at the close of that session, which was more than appropriate.  With close to 1500 in attendance only a couple hundred stayed and labored in prayer.  Now I am not blaming it on wireless phones and tablets, but those rectangles as well as the others we spend hours with, instill and steward a mindset of instant gratification at the click of a button.  The use of these objects are not compatible with the life of the called out and are part of the world system that trains us in fleshly patterns instead of Christ-like and Spirit led patterns.  Just for a moment consider a passage of scripture…

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
The world pattern set up by the devil begins with the lust of the flesh.  This speaks of the perversion of natural desires which begin to become more prominent than they should.  Our flesh cries out for them to be gratified and that instantly, without thinking if we are sowing to the flesh or the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8).  In thinking just about the phones we use, we can see our natural desire for connectedness being perverted with instant connection to thousands.  Is this what the Lord really desires for His people?  What about the lust of the eyes?  Our eyes were made to see glorious things; in fact they are easily drawn to the extraordinary.  Because of this natural predisposition we need to make sure the enemy is not getting us to stare continuously at little lights and images continually.  In Steven Curtis Chapman’s Song “Wake Up and See the Glory” the chorus sings…
I’m playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon…
I’m eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast…
I’m wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean…
Tell me what’s the deal with me?
Wake up and see the glory.
This song speaks of our weak condition against the lust of the eyes.  And anyone of us can fall into the addiction.  Make no mistake beloved we are addicted to our rectangles and this is where we encounter the pride of life.  While in Tampa a brother and I were talking about why I choose not to have or use these devices (except the computer for limited tasks).  We discussed the ease off falling into pornography as one reason I chose not to partake.  It was not the only reason and in fact not the most prominent one.  As previously stated these things are part of a world system of communication that is unnecessary for the child of God in most cases.  Our justification of little rectangles ignores the fact that they set a pattern of thought in humans for the world, the flesh and the devil.  When discussing the dependence we have on the rectangles of our life, I often get the statement, “I can handle it”, well maybe that is true, but it sounds a lot like denial from the mouth of any drug addict.  It seems to me the pride of life deals with our ego and our ability to handle things.  Pride comes before the fall and he who thinks he is able to stand should take heed lest he fall (I Corinthians 10:12).  I am not advocating for complete abstinence from rectangles in our life, just asking the needed question; Are we so in love with them, in need of them and enamored by them we are being shaped by their limits and missing out on experiencing God’s full supernatural power? 
           
By way of analogy let me conclude.  After the first generation of Israelite’s had died in the wilderness (for their constant rebellion against God) God did three miracles of power for the next generation entering into the Promised Land.  God brought water from a rock (Numbers 20:8), parted the Jordan River at flood stage (Joshua 3) and brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6).  These miracles were not because the next generation had not seen any, in fact they had; their shoes never wore out (Deuteronomy 29:5) and they ate manna every day (Joshua 5:12).  The problem was these miracles had become common place to them, and God wanted to show them His power to build and stimulate their faith.  Here in lies the problem with many of the rectangle in our lives; they show us extraordinary things so often as to make it all common place.  Just take the rectangle of the movies we watch.  With each passing film the ante goes up as to what will shock or amaze us.  The special effects and digital images illicit feelings on sight that please the flesh for a moment, like a fix.  When we need more we can go to our other rectangles for a fix to our hunger.  The problem is we are no longer able to wait on God for real miracles or contact with His presence.  Think I am wrong, stop all media rectangles in your life for one month, see how agitated, depressed and sad you are, but pull it off and know a real and growing hunger for God  in your heart.  “Oh God you are my God and early I will seek you.  My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.  To see your power and your glory as I have seen it in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:1-2)” Is this truly your heart’s desire?  If it is stop staring at rectangles.
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About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the Rochester N.Y. area at "The Savior's Chapel". His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, we truly can rise above this world and the sinfulness that entangles us. We can Defy Gravity.
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