In the next series of posts I will be sharing some thoughts concerning a spiritual “parable” that became very much alive to me through an experience I had with my youngest son a few months back. Sometimes the simplest things in life unexpectedly yield some valuable lessons. This was one of those experiences…
“The Lenticular Puzzle”
For Christmas last year, my wife and I gave our son a rather unique puzzle. We all thought it was “the coolest puzzle ever” because it was a 3-D, holographic, “lenticular puzzle”, which when viewed from different angles presented two completely different pictures. What a concept! Well, it did look amazing on the box top, and once it was all put together it really was one of “the coolest puzzles ever”, but quite frankly, I never want to go through the experience of putting together a lenticular puzzle again. It was dizzying.
In reality, every piece belonged simultaneously to two different “puzzles”, and depending on the angle you were looking at it, it changed from one to the other. This made it almost impossible to glance over the pieces spread out on the table and look for a particular piece. Some were showing the features of one image, and some of the other, depending how they were turned. Each piece had to be picked up and manipulated to figure out which reflection fit which picture. You then had to look at the partially assembled puzzle from just the right angle to see the desired image that you thought the piece would fit into.
The box top also presented the same dynamic. It couldn’t just sit there on the table where both of us could occasionally glance at it. No, we were constantly grabbing it, passing it back and forth, and then tipping it this way and that to see just the right image. We then had to match the puzzle piece up next to it, tilting it just so to match the same picture. Truthfully, my eyes were bugging out of my head after about five minutes into it.
This particular puzzle also presented an additional challenge. For some reason, the pieces were patterned after only a small number of varying shapes. This made it so that many of the pieces were potentially interchangeable and thus fit in multiple places in the puzzle. A number of times a piece seemed to fit according to one of the images, but when viewed from the other image, it became evident that it was out of place. It also made looking for a piece simply by its distinctive shape a rather fruitless endeavor. There were very few distinctive shapes, so we were left putting it together simply guided by the shifting images on the pieces.
When we were finally all done assembling what I’ve come to call “the puzzle of puzzles”, we both considered gluing it to a board, permanently, and hanging it up as a trophy to our perseverance, never again to have to be assembled.
“The Puzzle of puzzles”
As I’ve since meditated on this puzzle and the experience of making it, I’ve come to see that it lends itself in a rather profound way as a parable of a supremely greater “Puzzle”.
The lenticular puzzle that my son and I made I “affectionately” deemed “the puzzle of puzzles”. It earned this designation not only because it is one of the most difficult puzzles I’ve ever attempted, but also because it is a composite of two distinct puzzles in one. It is literally “the puzzle of puzzles.” This is what made it so challenging, and also so amazing.
Now, as we view this “puzzle of puzzles” as a “parable”, we will see how it points to and is instructive of that which could rightly be called “The Puzzle of puzzles”. You see, God, Himself, has designed and is in the process of assembling a “Lenticular Puzzle” of His own. He is taking what appears to be a massive jumble of pieces and fitting them together to bring into clear view a very unique image. This image is “lenticular” in nature in that it is a composite of two very distinct images, one earthly and one heavenly, one natural and one spiritual, one human and one divine, one plural and one singular. This divine “Puzzle of puzzles” is none other than the ekklesia of God, the Church, the Body of Christ.
When this “Puzzle” is assembled, it will have an earthly, natural image. It will be comprised of an immense diversity of colors and features. It will encompass and incorporate a vast sea of humanity from every nation under heaven. It will display features of every walk of life, strata of society, and stripe of calling, vocation, skill and gifting. It will be dazzling in its diversity, and yet uncanny in its unity. It will fill the earth, and testify to all of creation.
When it is assembled, it will also simultaneously have a heavenly, spiritual image. This image will be singular. It will be one, and yet it will be the supreme picture of all fullness. It will be the very image of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Each interlocking piece will not only have an earthly dimension, but also supply a portion of the fullness of the heavenly image. Only as the pieces are joined and interlocked together by the Spirit of God, according to the vision and ordering of the Father, will it be assembled to reveal the heavenly image in which “Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). This is the Image the Father continually and preeminently has in view as He assembles this Master Puzzle. This is the Pattern that all the pieces fit together to ultimately reveal. This is the View that God is seeking to “be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3:10-11), and throughout all the earth.
The unified duality of this “Puzzle of puzzles” is what makes it so unique and so spectacular when it is assembled. No other “puzzle” in the world is like it. Its “lenticular nature” is also what makes it much more difficult to “assemble” than any worldly “single-image puzzle.” It is simply of a higher order. As such, it cannot be merely pieced together by what seems to work according to the earthly view. Pieces that men make to fit, or are humanly manufactured to fit, will be seen for what they are once the heavenly view is taken into account. If they do not reflect Christ, they are not genuine, or they are put together the wrong way or in the wrong place. In any case, they will be rejected. Only that which is according to Christ and which reveals Christ will be approved and remain in the end. This simply is not a puzzle that can be put together by the wisdom nor the ambition of man, well-intentioned as it may or may not be.
This “Puzzle of puzzles”, rather, is being assembled by the Father with His Son fully in view. The earthly image will naturally take shape as the pieces are fit together according to the heavenly Image. We, as sons and daughters, are called to participate with the Father in the assembly of this Puzzle, but we are not to presume or to manhandle how it is to be assembled. Only as we work in cooperation with Him, in submission to the revelation and leading of the Holy Spirit, will we be able to faithfully do our part. This is a puzzle whose preeminent image is a heavenly one, and only as that image is “formed” in and through the “pieces”, will the earthly image come together and become manifest. This is what sets this Puzzle apart. It is unlike any other. This is God’s Masterpiece, “The Puzzle of puzzles”.
We will explore this and other aspects more fully in the next few posts. For now, this will suffice as an introduction to this parable. In the next post, we will look more closely at the individual pieces of this “Puzzle of puzzles”: you and I, in Christ.
In the meantime, here are a few questions to consider:
How does this “parable” help you to see the Church from a fresh perspective?
How does this “parable” help you to view yourself in a new way as an integral part of the ekklesia ?
May God give us fresh insight and revelation into this “profound mystery” of “Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)