Who didn’t love the ingenious colorful little plastic inter-locking building bricks of our childhood known as Legos? These little foot gouging objects have spawned a vast global empire of youthful imagination and productivity. Children (and adults) can spend hours designing and constructing endless architectures of the mind. They originated in Denmark where the word Lego means, “Play well”. Interestingly enough in Latin the word means “I put together”, and in Italian it means “I connect”, or “I tie”. Hmmm. What a great contemporary colorful metaphor for the Church!
When I graduated from school and was headed to the pastorate, I tended to looked at people in the Church sort of, as Legos. I was under the impression that the simple task was to take these 26 Legos, or 2600 Legos, or however many, and help assemble them, click them, inter-lock them, into this workable, simple, yet God-glorifying structure for the Lord.
The truth is that I had it all wrong. You see the Legos, still coaxing the metaphor, were not the perfect little, precision fabricated units purchased directly from the store. No. These Legos had been hammered. The Legos that we work with on a daily basis are imperfect; they are broken, seared, burned, melted, cracked, warped, shattered, crushed and otherwise affected by the journey of life in a fallen world. They don’t fit together so well. And may I suggest that the clergy are by no means exempt from these blemishes? Yet, in reality, this is what we have to work with as we help construct the edifice of the church. A far cry from the military specs we could have hoped for to build this remarkable house of worship. But, onward we must proceed, and so we do.
Here’s where I had it wrong…again. You see, the construction process is truly a work of God; it is a work of the Holy Spirit, by the word of God (which is a communication of the will of God to man), and the free will of man. God is the architect and contractor of this great temple. It is Christ who will build his Church (Matthew 16) to the glory of God. We in the Church are privileged purchased laborers who choose to be a part of God’s work.
In the far-superior metaphor Peter doesn’t use the elementary comparison of Legos, rather he refers to these units of construction as “living stones”. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
These stones are finely hewn products of the Master Craftsman assembled upon the cornerstone of Christ; the precision of the final product is beyond compare to any earthly quality. The words, “are being built up” communicate that it is an on-going process; we are an ongoing process. These stones are “worked” stones…cut, crafted, measured; that hewing takes time, effort, discipline and our willingness. We are being built up in spiritual advancement, placed together one atop, and next to the other to form the perfect building in the mind of Christ. But we’re not quite perfect…not yet. Are we?
Sometimes as we look around it may be difficult to imagine that this Church we see will eventually be this perfect temple, but again, it is God’s work to be constructed and finished in His time.
Peter continues on, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Wow! How cool. Our divine purpose, even in our deficient present condition is one of proclaiming the excellencies of God. In our current state of being we are privileged to announce the awesomeness of our architect, maker, and King.
Are we in the Church bent, burned, distorted and otherwise hard to fit together sometimes? The answer is “yes.” You are not the perfect stone or Lego. I am not the perfect stone or Lego. Only Jesus the Chris is the perfect, the incomparable cornerstone. We all need work, but God is at work, and the building is being built. Let Him do that. And jump in where he leads.