With this post we will continue with the parable I began last month of “the Puzzle of puzzles”. [It has been a while since that went out, so if you missed it or would like a quick refresher on it, please go to Part 1 here. What follows will make a lot more sense with that “piece” in place… ;-)]
So, now we come to the matter of what this Puzzle is comprised of: (you guessed it…) pieces, lots of pieces.
The “Living Pieces”
As stated in Part 1, this “Lenticular Puzzle” is a parable of the Ekklesia, the Church of Jesus Christ. As such, it is made up of an innumerable number of individual pieces. These pieces are people, like you and I, who have been redeemed by God through Jesus Christ, and have been crafted as “His workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10) to fit into His Master Puzzle, the Ekklesia. Each piece is intricately designed, and intimately known by Him. He is the Master Puzzle Maker and He knows exactly what is needed to complete every feature of the “Puzzle of puzzles”. Each piece is needed, and each piece is necessary. There are no duplicates, and there are no substitutes.
Even as God’s spiritual house, His temple, is built up of “living stones” (see 1 Peter 2:4-5), so this Puzzle is a “living Puzzle” made up of “living pieces”. Each piece is alive with natural human life as well as with the supernatural life of God. Because each piece is “living”, each and every piece has an active role in the assembling together of this Puzzle. Likewise, because it is a “living Puzzle”, it also is never static, but ever changing, evolving and developing. This adds yet another fantastic dimensions to this “Puzzle of puzzles”, which not only multiplies its complexity, but also its incomprehensible glory when it is completed.
The “Lenticular” Nature of Each Piece
Like the “lenticular puzzle” that my son and I made, this “Puzzle of puzzles” is likewise “lenticular” in nature. It is a dual-imaged puzzle that, as stated in Part 1, 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.” Each and every piece, therefore, contains a small part of each of these images. As they each find their proper place in the “Puzzle of puzzles”, their significance plays out in two diverse, yet marvelously integrated, “realms”. Let’s take a look at these two images.
The Earthly Image – Each piece in this Puzzle first of all bears an earthly image. In order for a piece to even be “in the box”, it must bear the nature and image of man. In the Puzzle’s “Instruction Manual” it explains, “The first man was of the dust of the earth,” (1 Corinthians 15:47). Adam was created in the image and likeness of God with a natural similitude and earthly expression of Him who is pure Spirit. In the course of time, Adam also “had a son in his own likeness, in his own image…” (Genesis 5:3) All of the descendants of Adam following, likewise, bore and carried on this earthly nature and image. “As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth;” (vs.48). This human, natural image is passed on by parental DNA to each subsequent generation as man reproduces “kind after kind.” Even if Adam and Eve had never sinned, man would have still been constituted according to their human nature and bear their earthly image.
Now this earthly image of each puzzle piece is quite extensive and complex. It is more than just the mere physical likeness of Adam and Eve, but comprehends everything natural that makes a “living piece” who they are. It has integrated into the depth of its image one’s race, ethnicity, nationality, family lineage, sex, age, physical features, intelligence, personality, temperament, character, conscience, emotions, will, habits, likes, dislikes, creativity, abilities, skills, and natural giftings. This image is also further influenced and developed by each pieces’ life experience, family life, social life, personal life, education, recreation, work, and religious experience. In fact, each individual piece of this puzzle is a complex “puzzle” in and of itself!
As mind-bogglingly magnificent as these “living pieces” are, however, it is inescapable to note that something is wrong with the earthly image that is on each one of them. When the pieces are compared to the image on the “boxtop”, they just don’t match up. They are all severely darkened and distorted. Something has obviously gone wrong.
The story is a long one, but it is worth touching on briefly because it is gives us the background to one of the most significant and yet scarcely known secrets about the assembly of this Puzzle.
The reality of what happened to the earthly image is that way back at the beginning of the Puzzle’s production, a rival of the Master Puzzle Maker was able to infect the DNA of the pieces, the “source code”, with a deadly “virus”. The “files” of the earthly picture were corrupted and the image became darkened and distorted almost beyond recognition. The Master Puzzle Maker in order to preserve the “files” of the heavenly image “firewalled” them until the problem could be resolved. Every piece manufactured thereafter was affected.
That would have been the end of the Puzzle had not the Master Puzzle Maker anticipated the possibility of this happening and from the beginning had a plan fully in place. In time, He would send His own Son into the world as a new “Prototype Piece” bearing both uncorrupted files of the earthly image, and also the original files of the heavenly image. By reclaiming the corrupted living pieces, one by one, the Master Puzzle Maker would then refurbish them according to the new Prototype so that they would once again be fit for the “Puzzle of puzzles”.
The first step of this refurbishing process would be to restore to the “living pieces” the uncorrupted heavenly image files which had been “firewalled”. Once they had been restored, they would then be used to affect a progressive restoration of the corrupted earthly image. This second part of the process would be painstakingly slow, but as long as the first part had been accomplished, these pieces could then begin to be assembled together in the new, refurbished Puzzle according to the restored heavenly image. Although this heavenly image is much more difficult to see, when it comes into focus it is the singularly most important key to the making of this “Puzzle of puzzles.”
One of the great assemblers of this “lenticular Puzzle” hinted at this secret in the Instruction Manual. He said, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view (the earthly image). Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (the restored heavenly image) has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) It was the focusing on the heavenly image rather than the earthly one that was the apostolic secret to the assembly of the Ekklesia. And it is indeed the supreme key for all ages and times to the assembly of this “Puzzle of puzzles.”
Now for starters, it is the primary way to discern whether a “living piece” actually belongs to the Puzzle or not. Again, the Instruction Manual says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (in the Puzzle); test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus (the heavenly image) is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) ; and also, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ (the heavenly image) he does not belong to Christ (the One who in Himself constitutes the “Puzzle of puzzles”. ) (Romans 8:9)
The earthly view, however, is utterly insufficient and dangerously deceptive when it comes to making this determination. Many of the multitudes of “corrupted pieces” actually fancy themselves a part of this Puzzle when in reality they are not. According to their corrupted earthly image they may appear to belong to it because of their associations with the earthly forms of the Ekklesia, or because of their “head knowledge” of the Instruction Manual, but when their heavenly image is viewed, there is nothing there at all.
There are still others who deem themselves a part of it because of the seeming lack of darkness and distortion to their earthly image when compared to others. Some of these even look more fit for this Puzzle than some of the genuine pieces, but again, when the heavenly image is viewed, it is merely empty and void. These are not genuine pieces of the Puzzle either.
On the other hand, there are some among the “refurbished pieces” who seem the most unlikely to be a part of the Puzzle. Some of these even have little or no association with the common earthly forms of the Ekklesia, or have little knowledge of the Instruction Manual. Still others have an earthly image that is still so degenerated that it makes them seemingly unfit for this Puzzle. When viewed from the heavenly perspective, however, these all are seen to be breathtakingly dazzling. They have been re-imaged with the uncorrupted DNA of the heavenly Prototype. Although their earthly image was deceiving, the presence of the heavenly image proves these are indeed genuine, refurbished pieces.
This is just one aspect of how the heavenly image is the key to this Puzzle. Later on we will take this up more fully when it comes to the actual assembly of the Puzzle, the Ekklesia. The point to bear in mind throughout is that the heavenly image is the uncorrupted, reliable, dominant one. This, in fact is the one that the Master Puzzle Maker Himself is primarily viewing as He works together with His Son to assemble this Puzzle. So we must, likewise, assemble and be assembled according to the heavenly image, not the earthly one. As the Puzzle is put together according to this image, the earthly image will simultaneously come together and become exactly what it ought to be. That is one of the unique features of a “lenticular puzzle.”
Since this heavenly image is the supreme key to the making of this “Puzzle of puzzles”, let’s take a closer look at it:
The Heavenly Image –
The heavenly image which has been restored is none other than the incorruptible image of “the man from heaven” who has been downloaded into each piece so that now “Christ is all, and is in all”. (Colossians 3:11) The Instruction Manual says, “The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49)
The secret plan of the Master Puzzle Maker has from the beginning been to “reimage” His Son in us, His “living pieces”, that we may share in His nature and likeness and then assemble us together as His “Puzzle of puzzles” to reveal the full expression and manifestation of His Son to all of creation.
Now when it comes to this heavenly image that has been implanted into each piece, we see that it has two phenomenal characteristics about it which make it unspeakably glorious: fullness and specialization.
The Instruction Manual says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness in Christ…” (Colossians 1:19 & 2:9-10) Each and every refurbished piece has received a download of the full Christ. As all fullness is in Him, so all fullness indwells each and every piece in this “Puzzle of puzzles.” Even as the DNA of the first Adam constitutes the earthly image, so the “DNA” of the last Adam constitutes the heavenly image. Every feature, facet and detail of the Heavenly Man has been encoded into the heavenly image of each and every living piece. If the earthly image is “extensive and complex”, how much more so is this heavenly image?
Not only does this heavenly image contain the fullness of the new Prototype, it also possesses the mysterious quality of specialization. A wonderful parallel can be drawn between these reimaged pieces and the innumerable cells of the human body. Even as each cell contains the entire DNA of the whole body, so each cell is also programmed for specialization. The entire body can be replicated from just one cell, and yet, each cell is programmed to fulfill a specialized function and take a specified form. Because of this specialization, all the cells of the body together reveal the whole man.
So in this “Puzzle of puzzles” each piece is a representation of the whole and yet is designed to function as and express a specialized part of the whole. When each piece is viewed from the heavenly perspective, the Prototype can be fully seen in it, and yet each piece also contributes its own unique part to the collective image of the Prototype as a unified Puzzle. The heavenly image, therefore, is a phenomenal blend of fullness and specialization.
When it comes to the assembling of this Puzzle according to the heavenly image, these dual aspects of fullness and specialization greatly come into play. We shall discuss that more fully in a later post, but for now, let us marvel in the mystery of this glorious heavenly image. The more we behold it, the more the Puzzle becomes clear. The more we behold it, the more our part to play in the Puzzle becomes clear. Only when there is a transcendent and transforming revelation of the heavenly image can this “Puzzle of puzzles” be properly assembled.
That, my friend, is the supreme key.