If you’re my age, you remember sitting in the movie theater and watching Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford portrayed a rugged, good-looking, adventurous archaeologist drawn into a search for the illusive Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis found it.
The Bible says that God gave the golden Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites to remind them of His presence among them (Exodus 25:10-22). Over time – and it didn’t take long – Israel began worshiping the symbol of God’s presence instead of worshiping God. They replaced God with the “box”.
God doesn’t come wrapped up in a pretty box, nor does He dwell in houses made with hands (1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1).
We face the same danger as the Biblical Israelites. We replace faith in God with faith in our faith. We worship our worship rather than the worthy One. Religious jewelry is worn to signify an outward appearance of godliness. Catchy tunes hide the empty words being sung from empty hearts. Church buildings become sacred places because we think that’s where God is. Sunday services are filled with safe and familiar ritual and repetition as if drawing near with our lips alone is sufficient. The symbols of Christ supplant Him.
He is too great to be stuffed into a box – even the Ark of the Covenant. God is more than all the ideas we have about Him, who He is, and what He does (Isaiah 55:8-9). And how fearful to think that He is right in front of us and we miss Him completely because we’re busy honoring the box instead of Him!
CS Lewis wrote in his book, Surprised by Joy:
God in His mercy kicks out the walls of the temples we build for Him because He wants to give us more of Himself …. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that His shattering is one of the marks of His presence?