The courage to think outside the box!
Dr. Thomas C Peebles isolated the measles virus, and it was his discovery, early in his career that led to the vaccine now used so successfully.
Later in his career, Dr. Peebles wrote:
I am sure, as is often the case in scientific endeavor, that much of the successful recognition and isolation of this virus lay in perseverance, newness to the field, and failure to be bound by the preconceived ideas that caused others in the laboratory to miss this new effect. ~ from the LA Times, August 13, 2010.
Thinking outside the box is a hallmark of the heroes of our faith and the God whom they serve.
Folks like Sarah and Abraham think and live outside the box ... and Moses and a Deborah ... the prophets who dreamed the dreams of a just and faithful world for everyone ... the Apostle Paul who thought and lived outside the box and built bridges where others dug chasms ... and down through the centuries, the women and men who dreamed big and thought far and wide.
Sometimes they were called heretics and trouble-makers. Sometimes they were imprisoned or burned at the stake, as they followed the biggest out-of-the-box thinker of them all - Jesus of Nazareth. I always envision the moment in heaven when God announced that God's Son would be born in our midst, like one of us, and born humbly, in a stable in a small town in Palestine. I can only imagine angels, with their jaws dropped, hands held tightly to the sides of their head (Do angels say, O my God?) - because it was such a daring move on God's part.
When Jesus walked this good earth to announce that the Kingdom of God was close at hand, close enough for us to grasp it and begin to live it, some folks though he was nuts, or even dangerous, and when he suggested that it was possible to love God without the temple in Jerusalem, the temple-folks got hot and bothered and collaborated with their enemies, the Roman overlords, to do Jesus in. Because he dared to think outside the box - just like God. But those who thought they knew so much God couldn't stand the real God at all.
Because love is infinite.
The temple-people said, "No, it's not that big!" And Jesus said, "Yes it is, and bigger still."
It takes courage to live and think outside the box, but thank God for those who do.
Chances to think outside the box come our way infrequently (thankfully), but when they do, and today may be day for you, at work, with a friend, a new idea, a challenging opportunity - who knows - to think and live outside the box.
Others may advise caution, but sometimes we have to throw caution to the wind. Others may shout "tradition," but we may have to say, "Shed the shackles of tradition!"
Jesus did ... and so did Dr. Peeples.
We worship a God who always surprises us with daring ideas, and to everyone reading this today, live your courage!