I am a jigsaw puzzle junkie… have been since I was a kid. There is something that is just so satisfying about connecting pieces that belong together, seeing one image come from lots of tiny pieces. The more pieces there are and the more challenging the image, the more I like it.
I’ve got a jigsaw puzzle app on my iPad that allows me to do puzzles anywhere. It is wonderfully entertaining (and slightly addicting). I never have to worry about losing a piece. They are all right there in front of me. I will admit that there are times when I start a new puzzle and all the pieces are on the playing surface that I think to myself… there’s no way all of these pieces are going to fit into one puzzle But of course they always do.
Romans 12:4-5 says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Paul, as he did quite often, used the body to help us understand the unity of all believers. But I see us a a giant jigsaw puzzle.
We each look different and perform a different function, but we are all connected. I may not be directly connected, that is, physically touching, the believer (puzzle piece) in Uganda, but we’re a part of the same puzzle. As Paul says, “each member belongs to all the others.” We have a place in each other’s lives. We’re dependent upon each other. We’re a part of the same puzzle. All of us, uniquely shaped and colored, are chosen to fill a gap in the sphere of influence where the Spirit has placed us and purposed us to be. No other puzzle piece can fill that space. It’s ours. It’s where God has us in the world.
One of the many tragedies in the church today are those believers who say, “I’m not gifted. Sally has this gift. Frank has that gift. But I don’t have any of those qualities.” That, to put it bluntly, is a lie! The Bible teaches, if you are a believer you have been given a gift. In that same passage in Romans Paul continues, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (12:6-8) Nowhere does it say, “Oh, and for poor Gertrude, she can just sit by and watch us as we are about the Lord’s work… poor thing.” NO! There is no caveat for the ungifted, because the ungifted do not exist in the body of believers! None of us have the option of staying inside the puzzle box. We ALL belong to the same puzzle and we all have a specific role to play.
Just as when I start a new puzzle and feel slightly anxious over all the pieces fitting into place there are times when my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around the concept of one Church united, one Body of believers functioning as such, one Puzzle coming together in order to point those who have not yet figured out they are a puzzle piece to Jesus. Today’s Body seems so fractured. Christian denominations refusing to pray with another Christian denomination or participate in the same event. Churches trying to make their “puzzle” more attractive than the church down the street so they can have the most pieces. Churches becoming so self-focused they care about nothing more than themselves and their reputation as a church.
But, if I don’t believe that the Church is One I am no better than those believers who say they have no gift. Paul says to the Ephesians, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (4:1-3) The Spirit has united us. God Himself has put us in the same puzzle box no matter how different or fractured we appear as believers all dumped out on the playing surface. Paul exhorts us to KEEP the unity of the Spirit. It exists in spite of our humanity, in spite of our differences, in spite of our apparent brokenness.
Our duty then as believers is to live as a puzzle piece. To know that we are a part of an amazing work of art and live out our purpose to the fullest. To believe that the Spirit has united us with all believers around the world and in spite of the disunity we might see, our job as individual puzzle pieces must be diligent to be humble, gentle, patient, and above all LOVE every other puzzle piece in His perfect peace.
Lord, thank you for making us pieces of the same puzzle, for connecting us to one another in a purpose that is far greater than all of us put together. Help us never to deny our giftedness but pursue it with the faith you have given us to fulfill our calling. And help us not to be discouraged by the fractures and brokenness in our world and in our churches. Give us the faith to know and believe you have made us ONE and give us the fruit of your Spirit to keep the unity you have created among us. In your precious name, amen.