Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jenga Lessons

Jenga distorted

Jenga is a game involving the stacking of wooden blocks, higher and higher, by pulling blocks from lower in the stack and adding them back on to the top. It also is a good illustration of the role that the Biblical Law plays in salvation history.

According to the Bible, right after sin entered the world through mankind’s rebellion against God, humanity has been creating religious ways to try to get back into relationship with God. Cain and Abel, the first generation after the fall, already had religious ideas. In one of the more colorful stories about human culture trying to reach the heavenly realms, men after the flood try to build a literal tower.

That is a good picture of what religions and cultures do. They “build” towers or ladders trying to recover a place with the Creator. It is a futile endeavor.

Later in the Bible, God Himself gives His chosen people a religious system called “The Law.” As far as towers or ladders go, it is the Jenga of religions.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, describes the Law as being both something that places all of humanity under a curse by exposing their sins and as a means of teaching us life as God intends it to be lived.

Like a spiritual round of Jenga, the Law teaches us truth about the world. In Jenga one learns about gravity, weight, balance, and structural integrity. The Law teaches us about sin and our inability to avoid it. And, in Jenga, we learn that ultimately the tower is going to fall. The Law curses us because the breaking of a single rule in the Law brings the whole weight of guilt under the Law crashing down upon us.

However, Paul goes on to tell us about the wonderful hope found in the Gospel. Jesus—the Son of God—came into our world as one of us. He lived under the system of the Law. But He played the impossible game of Jenga. He fulfilled the Law. God, through Jesus, built the only tower reconnecting mankind with God. All we have to do is trust Jesus and follow Him.

The picture is getting stretched to the breaking point here, but the illustration carries on. Living the life of a follower of Jesus is like climbing the Jenga tower Jesus built. It can be scary at times. We are tempted to think that the whole thing is going to topple over. But that is what faith is all about. Trust.

We don’t build the bridge to God. It has been done. We simply follow. Some people still cling to religious thinking. They feel the need to fulfill the Law. The constantly try to prop-up the way forward in their own ability. They grab blocks from bellow and pile them on ahead. That is—again—a futile effort.

If they are somehow doing that while truly trusting God there is no way for the tower to crumble. God is faithful and true. If, however, they are not trusting God at all but just relying on their own efforts, they are lost climbing the tower of religious Jenga again. It is all going to come crashing down on their heads.

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