Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Jenga Church

Have you ever played Jenga?  That’s the game where you build a tall tower of wood blocks then go around the group removing as many blocks as you can.  The loser is the one on whom the tower falls.

So the goal is to see just how many pieces you can remove before you make the whole structure so unstable that it collapses.

But unfortunately, the more you remove, the harder it is to find the next piece.  Throughout the game, you can see holes and gaps.  You can tell the structure is missing something and that it is not as strong as it should be.

Most of the time, when you remove a piece, you simply discard it without really thinking about how important and necessary that piece was.

Sadly, many churches in America look like a Jenga tower that is on the verge of collapse.  Far too many believers have removed themselves, their gifts, their lives, from the Temple that is God’s People.  

We have a foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets.  We have a Chief Cornerstone that is the true basis of the whole entity and we, according to Ephesians 2:22 are “being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.  

Here’s the whole context:
Ephesians 2:19-22 : “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

God is making us into a spiritual house.  A well built house needs a foundation, needs walls, supports without which the house will leak or collapse.  But instead of using 2x4’s and drywall, He is using people.  People that He has shaped and positioned together to provide a solid and functioning structure.

What’s amazing is that in Paul’s day, many built with stone and did not use cement or any other types of adhesives between the blocks.  Each piece was cut and carved to exact specifications so that it will fit tightly and not be moved.  Some of those structures still exist.

Peter echoes the idea that we are built together by Christ into a Spiritual Temple for a purpose and function.   1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10 : “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We are drawn together to serve as a priesthood, to declare His praises.  Each of us is fitted for a purpose in that structure.  Ephesians 4:11-13 : “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Christ’s Body needs to be built up, in order for us to reach maturity, completeness and unity.  In order for us to attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, there can be no holes.  We all have to be in our place.

We forget how vital that is.  Many in America seem to think their particular church exists to serve them.  When things don’t go their way or feelings get hurt too often they take themselves out of the church.  But like the game of Jenga, the structure is weakened and the individual piece is no longer fulfilling its function.

We think people, like the Jenga pieces, can be removed without any real consequence.  After all, it’s my life… right?

The church doesn’t exist to serve its members.  It exists to fulfill the purpose and mission of Christ.   He needs to be pleased and satisfied in all we do in the church and as the church. 

And when you remove yourself, you leave a gap.  You isolate yourself and cannot accomplish the work of the Kingdom.

I remember watching the movie, The Patriot with Mel Gibson about the Revolutionary War.  The British forces would often concentrate on the militia rather than the Regular army because they had seen the everyday farmers break ranks and flee for lack of discipline and training.  The fact that they ran made the rest of the army easier to defeat.

That’s where we are.  We have holes in our structure… soldiers are missing from our front lines and our flank is vulnerable because we are not true disciples (ironic that Disciple and Discipline are so close isn't it?).

How is your church?  Do you see a lot of missing pieces?  Is the structure teetering and near collapse.  Are you taking yourself out and leaving a teetering structure?

When a church collapses, there’s only one winner and a whole lot of losers trapped in darkness waiting to be freed.

Don’t play Jenga with the church!

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