At the check-out at the bread store, I saw this little sign above a basket of goodies: “Please don’t squeeze the bonbons.” I asked the cashier what that was about.
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe how many people squeeze them — not just children either — the adults do, too!” she said. (Is this just a Brazil thing?)
So why would an adult squeeze a bonbon? Are they resisting temptation to buy one? Are they checking for freshness? Or do they have some secret hatred of humanity, trying to destroy the enjoyment of a bonbon by others?
In some shops full of breakable merchandise, signs are posted: “You break it, you buy it.” Rough handlers abound in the world, apparently.
#1. Squeezing the gospel
Some people in the world treat the gospel in a similar fashion. They mishandle it, squeeze it here and there, and force it into shapes it was not meant to assume. Warnings abound in both Testaments about changing God’s revelation. Paul urged Timothy,
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2.15.
Handle with care! Don’t squeeze the word of truth into the wrong shape!
#2. Squeezed into the world’s shape
Christians also must resist being squeezed into a worldly shape. The NTE echoes J.B. Phillips’s translation of Romans 12.2 this way,
“What’s more, don’t let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God’s will is, what is good, acceptable and complete.”
In the best sense possible, the Christian must push back against the pressure to conform. That is done by allowing God to transform us more and more into the Lord’s image. Only by doing this can we realize in our life God’s will.
#3. A good squeeze, by God
Then, again, we must acknowledge that the Lord does his own squeezing, but in a good way. In Psalm 139, David recognized that God is sovereign and ever-present in our lives. In verse 5 he says, “You squeeze me in from behind and in front; you place your hand on me.”
The word translated “squeeze” has been understood in various ways. It’s certain that God has us surrounded. He exercises his sovereign will in our lives.
In the Lord’s case, of course, he has every right to squeeze. We may object and say,
- “Please don’t squeeze me this way or that!”
- “No, that hurts!”
- “I’d rather you not do that in my life!”
But however the Lord may squeeze, he operates within his will and for our good. He has a benevolent intent, that of protection and blessing.
Who knows why an adult squeezes a bonbon. But the reason behind squeezing the Bible out of shape and the world’s squeezing of the Christian to conform is clear. So is the Lord’s squeezing of his people. Let’s provide him ample space to do his good work in us and resist those who would pressure us to go along.