As a Container

Before corrugated cardboard was invented in the late 19th Century, an actual wooden box was the container used for storing or shipping soap. Most people only feel comfortable if they are safely within the box which is their comfort zone — their nationality group, their culture, their political party, their church belief system. I’ve always felt it was a creative adventure to think outside the box. God didn’t give me an inquisitive mind just to use within the limits of a soapbox.


As a Platform

Wooden soapboxes became convenient portable platforms for speakers expressing unique new ideas. More traditional beliefs were being expressed from behind lecterns in state capitols and from pulpits in large churches, but the most edgy ideas could be heard in city streets from political radicals, animated evangelists and snake oil salesmen. The trouble is, when speakers get on soapboxes, they can easily go so far outside the box that they can’t be trusted to tell the truth.


As a Race Car

My great-grandson KJ just celebrated his second birthday. One special gift was an elaborate plastic car he can sit in, powered by a small electric motor. He can steer it, but his parents have a remote device that can overrule any mistakes he makes. When I was a kid, we actually made soapbox cars we could ride in and race each other down a hill. Small town carnivals often included Soapbox Derbies that separated the serious racers from the wannabees.

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Here’s a summary of my Soapbox Philosophy at this point in my life. I stand solidly ON the soapbox platform of tradition Christian beliefs about God and the meaning of it all. I’m ON the box, but I’m not IN the box. I feel sorry for those Christians who believe they aren’t allowed to pursue outside-the-box ideas. 

As a pastor and a community leader, I recognize the responsibility of speaking from the soapbox I have. I want to express all of the truth God has helped me discover, but I do my best never to go beyond the truth into promoting my own snake-oil ideas. 

On the other hand, I want to go as far as my soapbox will take me. This box that could have been the stifling container, holding me down and keeping me from moving forward —I want to equip it with the biggest and best wheels I can find! I’ll even attach jets if I can figure out how. I want to be the first one down the hill in this Soapbox Derby we call LIFE.

– – Pastor George Van Alstine