Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, April 06, 2015

Puzzles & Faith

Imagine that you have been given a bag filled with pieces of an 18,000 piece puzzle.
Your job is to put it together.  Oh, and no one knows where the box for the puzzle is that has the picture on it.
How far could you get?

For me, I know I could eventually get the border done and maybe some parts here and there as I work into the interior of the puzzle, but it is extremely hard to do without the picture.

I doubt I would finish such a puzzle.  I’m sure I would get frustrated, irritated and quit—I mean, do I really need this headache? 

What if the puzzle actually had something important for you?  What if putting this puzzle together provided answers to your life and faith? 

Imagine being told by the person who gave you the puzzle that if you solve this puzzle—you will understand your life, your past, and your future better.  What if there is an inheritance that you will receive when you finish it?

Would you do it then?  Would you even believe them?  Or are you content with what you can figure out for yourself?

What if it’s been years since you were given the puzzle and the inheritance has been waiting for you all this time… you’ve been missing out on the blessing that is available?

Would you begin to resent the puzzle?  Would you resent not having the box?

Then imagine your relief when someone finally gives you the box and you can see what the picture is supposed to be. 

Suddenly the pieces and the patterns begin to make sense.  You suddenly know how the small sections you were able to figure out fit together.  Suddenly progress is made. 

Just by having the picture of what it is supposed to look like, the puzzle takes shape much faster.

In one moment, the promise of blessing and inheritance is not so far out of reach.   Rather than being a frustration, the puzzle becomes exciting and joy is felt every time a piece is put into place.

The puzzle begins to make sense.  Then you begin to wonder how you ever got along without the picture in the first place.  Sure, you were able to do some of it, the easy parts, but until you got the big picture did you really begin to understand what you were doing?

That is how I feel when it comes to my faith in Christ as a Disciple of Jesus.  I’ve been taking my faith seriously since just before my 18th birthday.  I made it through college learning about apologetics and defending the faith.  I have a Master’s degree from a fine seminary in Fort Worth, TX. 

But for much of my walk of faith—I’ve unknowingly been trying to put together the puzzle of Christianity without the box.  There’s a lot I’ve been able to figure out, a lot of doctrine and the foundation of faith that is necessary. 

But there were always parts that were more confusing, things that didn’t seem to fit, or were hard to make them fit into my faith, practice and belief.

I didn’t even know I didn’t have the picture.  I didn’t know what I was missing.  I didn’t realize the blessing and inheritance that was waiting.

Over the last several years, I’ve been realizing that I’ve been missing the puzzle box.  More and more in recent days and months the box and picture of my faith has been coming into focus.  And suddenly it all begins to make better sense. 

It’s not as if I didn’t understand Jesus, didn’t understand salvation or was not saved.  But the richness and depth has been missing.

The picture of the puzzle that is the Bible, that is faith in Christ is that of the Jewish Roots of our faith.  

We’ve got to understand that the Bible was written almost entirely by Jewish men with a Hebrew mindset and cultural references.  They talk about things that Jewish people will recognize instantly, but most of us, gentiles do not.

Some find it surprising to hear that Jesus was Jewish and that everything He did fulfilled the promise and purpose of the Jewish Messiah.

That’s because the early church quickly began to become more and more gentile, non-Jewish.  And they quickly began to distance themselves or remove as many reminders of the Jewish foundations as possible. 

As the leadership of the church shifted from Jerusalem to Rome those Jewish cultural references that are obvious to the Jew and are ingrained in the New Testament began to be forgotten, ignored or even made illegal.

For me, it started with my wife and I examining the life of Jacob and realizing that the idea of him as the trickster, deceiver and heel-grabber was really his brother Esau’s opinion and did not reflect the way God treated him, how God blessed, protected, gave authority, power and crowned Him as the Prince of God. 

It was pushed forward when our family and I first went to a Seder meal presented by a representative of Jews for Jesus and suddenly the Last Supper gained context.

We've been blessed by visiting Messianic Jewish services on the Sabbath in Nashville and Knoxville, TN and worshipping with people from around the globe; united around faith in Messiah.

Since then, we have been seeking to understand God’s calendar and the Feasts from the Tanakh, the Old Testament.   Suddenly prophecy begins to make sense—Jesus’ first coming shown in the Spring Feasts and His second coming in the Fall Feasts.

Suddenly all the pieces, sections and parts begin to fall into place.  As a result, my walk with Christ has seen an increasing blessing, increasing excitement, increasing understanding.

I’ve finally got the picture of the puzzle of what it is supposed to look like.  I see the root of the olive tree and not just the branch I’ve been grafted in to.  And it is wonderful.  I'm beginning to gain the blessing and experience the inheritance that has been out of sight/out of mind for so long.

Are you still trying to put together the puzzle without the box?  I know it’s frustrating.  But seek Him and ask Him to show you what the faith is supposed to look like.


Richard said...

Excellent discussion. It is important to remember though that even as Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecy, His primary purpose in God's plan was to provide the means for sinners such as you and I to receive God's grace and become His heirs and sons. Jesus' fulfillment of prophecy and the law was preordained. We now live with the knowledge of the past and the law but live under grace. We must be careful not to resurrect the law or we will all be lost.

Kelly Reed said...

Richard, I would recommend listening to these sermons from Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Morristown, TN and the former President of the Tennessee Baptist Convention--they are excellent.


Quickly I would say that the plan of God was always to invite and include the Gentiles in His nation--that's why we are grafted in.

Law is the standard, and always will be--Grace is the covering and atonement.

Grace does not negate the law but provides the assurance of reconciliation.

Both Jew and Gentile are saved by Grace through Faith in Messiah Yeshua.

The process of Sanctification is the increasing growth and understanding and application of the Law now written on our hearts.

Through the indwelling of the Spirit, we now have the power and ability to live in the "perfect law that gives freedom"