You know the expression regarding some wonderful experience or scene or idea that so inspires and invigorates that you just want to take it with you to tap into at will? , “If only this could be bottled….”
Of course, this expression always regards what is not “bottleable.” God tops that list.
Unbottleable was the non-word that came to mind the other day as when I looked up Philippians 4:8, referenced in a book I’m reading.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)
Advocating to aspire to God’s mindset, the apostle Paul instructs believers to engage our brains to connect with the Spirit who indwells us when we accept Christ’s invitation to follow Him. While the Holy Spirit is in us, He doesn’t take over. It’s up to us to discipline ourselves to think along the line of God and disconnect from the natural thinking line of the world.
The primary physical tool at our disposal is our brain. Paul’s guidance in this letter as well as in others he wrote is to practice thinking along God’s line until that line becomes our default. It’s not like God waves his Holy Spirit wand and we’re automatically a first string warrior for God’s Kingdom. Paul also wrote….
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)
What’s particularly interesting about Paul’s statement in the Philippians letter is the word “anything.” “Anything” is to admit that the other words “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable” don’t cover all the lines of thinking that could align us with God. “Anything” means God can pop up anywhere including where we might least expect to find him.
God is the least unbotteable of “anything” in the entire universe!
C.S. Lewis said as much in a reflection about his life before he became a Christian.
“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading” (Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis).
Recall he was an avowed and very committed atheist who only came to belief in Christ very reluctantly after realizing that even his most reliable atheistic lines of reasoning failed to totally keep God out of the picture. (Check out in the link in “notes” below for more on this quote.)
God has this potent way of finding us wherever we are and to cleverly introducing doubt into lines of thinking we hold devoted to keeping him out. Jesus Christ himself is God transcending the mere, albeit potent influence of the surreal and spiritual.
“The great God became incarnate in flesh and blood; the great thoughts of God became crystallized in words,’ said Oswald Chambers. (The Moral Foundations of Life)
To think of God as unbottleable is on the one hand frightening to me because I can’t really hold him off or out of areas of me that I’d prefer to keep to myself. However, an unbottleable God is ultimately best, at least for me….because, you see, I am not God.
Be careful what you read, C.S. Lewis: http://apilgriminnarnia.com/2013/03/04/be-careful-what-you-read-c-s-lewis-literary-encounter-with-george-macdonald/