The Sandbox

We hear all of the time about how different churched and unchurched people are. But recently, after a series of conversations with friends of mine that represent each of those parties, I came to the realization that both groups have at least one thing in common: They want to keep God in a box, and that box is clearly in the shape of a church building.

I’m sad to say (actually, I’m not…) but both sides are going to be sorely disappointed.

I’m obviously speaking in generalities. There are exceptions, I know. But by and large, the church believes in “the church.” It’s the place they go on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. They visit God there, and so in some senses, they begin to believe that it’s the place where God lives. It’s the House of God. And as such, it’s the hub of their universe and the place where all of life’s answers reside. Like children in an eternal game of “Tag,” they constantly run back to the venerable “Home Base” to be “Safe.” And sadly, at this point, they often begin to circle the wagons to keep their “safe” place safe. The walls rise. The box closes. And then, we begin to hear about churches who won’t admit members with pierced ears, as though that somehow threatens their safety—because anyone who is “different” does.

The unchurched, on the other hand, see the box the church has built and they are more than happy to let God stay in that box. If he gets loose, he could rock the boat, or worse, be a threat.

Can’t you just see the two groups, like children in a sandbox? The church is in its corner, crying, “You can’t have him! He’s ours!” And the unchurched are in their corner saying, “We don’t want him! Leave us alone!”

Guess what, y’all? God is everywhere—in the church and the bar. He’s in the mission fields, the hospitals, the brothels, and on the subway. He’s everywhere. And He’s for everyone. He is intimately aware of every aspect of our lives. There is nowhere that He is not. The church can’t chain Him or cage Him in and the unchurched can run from Him or ignore Him, but they will never escape Him. God belongs to everyone and to no one, at the same time. Everything that exists came from Him and He’s just good enough to share it.

AW Tozer says, “It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to God than any other person is.”

I’m choosing to step into the middle of the sandbox, knowing that God is there, and reach my hands out to both sides. Who’s with me?

Today, we’re discussing Chapter 5 of A.W. Tozer’s classic, “The Pursuit of God.” You don’t have to read the chapter to stick around and chat. We would love to hear anything you have to share! If you have written a response to this week’s chapter, please feel free to post the link in the widget below. Next week, we will continue with Chapter 5 (we’re spending two weeks per chapter this time ‘round). And my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen will be hosting the link widget.

So, what are your thoughts?


About Sarah Salter


  1. This is a great post, Sarah, I’m with you! I think you described it well. And like kids in the sandbox, we’ve been kicking sand in each others’ eyes for far too long. And not only do we consider the four walls of church “safe” we also define our version of church that is safer than others. So we introduce another kid to the sandbox and start kicking.

  2. I am totally with ya on this one….great post Sarah!

  3. Definitely. It’s so sad to think of all of us with our misconceptions and false assumptions about God–yeah, everyone. It’s not a matter of time, distance, and space; but a matter of relationship, knowledge, and experience. Lord, help us be the light of the world and not hidden away in fear. Thanks Sarah!

  4. God is here. God is in me.
    This is my safe place. Wherever and whenever here is.

    I don’t fully grasp the concept, but that is just how awesome our God is.

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Frank, those are good points! We do have a tendency to kick sand in each others’ eyes. And all that does is alienate each other. It doesn’t share the love of Christ AT ALL. And what I’m learning about “brands” of church is that people have different needs that are met by different churches. Everybody’s needs won’t all be met at the same church. When we stand back and judge each other’s churches by the “outer” stuff like worship styles or types of seating or which curriculum is used to minister to the children, then again, we alienate each other, isolate ourselves and again, DON’T share the love of Christ. We need to stop judging each other and start reaching out to each other. We need to learn to play well together!

    Thanks for sharing, Frank! 🙂

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Lori! 🙂

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason – So true!!!

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Dusty, the whole time I was writing, I was humming a song that I think goes along with this well. I’ll bet you know it!

    I serve a risen Savior
    He’s in the world today
    I know that He is living
    Whatever men may say
    I see His hand of mercy
    I hear His voice of cheer
    And just the time I need Him
    He’s always near
    He lives!
    He lives!
    Christ Jesus lives today
    He walks with me
    And talks with me
    Along life’s narrow way
    He lives!
    He lives!
    Salvation to impart
    You ask me how I know He lives…

    Your comment made me think of it again. Thanks! 🙂

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Lori, I just finished reading the post you linked up today and can’t comment at YOUR place, so I thought I’d comment here and pray it gets back to you… I LOVED your post! I miss those intimate times, too! I went to a church for a couple of years as a teenager where, after the music ended, they would turn down the lights and invite testimonies or prayer requests. Those were some of the sweetest times I recall at that church! It built us together as a family in ways that a lot of churches now just can’t even identify with. Thank you for sharing that and for taking me back to those memories that build my hope again that church really can be a phenomenal, blessed experience of sweetness and impartation of healing and blessing. 🙂

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