Legos are not just for kids anymore. I have seen more than one of my social media friends, who are adults with kids (sometimes adult children), proudly post pictures of the latest Lego model they put together. Legos have seen a surge in popularity among adults because they hit the right notes of nostalgia and geekiness. Legos owe a lot of their popularity in recent years to sets based off of licensed properties like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. This popularity has had a bit of a price on the soul of Legos, and it has created the Lego conundrum. Are Legos cute models that are meant to be built with precision by following directions or are they free form building toys meant to open the imagination? They honestly exist in a very odd middle ground, no-man’s land between those two extremes. If they are models then it makes sense to break out the super clue and stick those bricks together so the pieces do not get lost. If they are building toys then glue defeats their purpose. Of course, if their primary purpose is just to build then buying expensive specialized sets is an inefficient way to get a lot of blocks. I am not the only one to notice this. The conundrum over the nature of Legos is actually the premise behind the 2014 Lego Movie. The word Lego is derived from the Latin word that means “to put together”, and the heart of the debate around Legos is what is the best way to put it together. Is the best way to meticulously follow instructions or is it to let creativity guide everything?
This does create the interesting thought, what is the best way to put together a disciple of Jesus Christ? The bible quite often uses an analogy of building a building to describe the faith and discipleship of believers. Paul uses this analogy in 1 Corinthians and states that the church is being built into the temple of the Holy Spirit. Peter also uses this analogy in 1 Peter 2:5: “you also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house.” The process of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a bit like a building being built or like a Lego set: one brick at a time. The idea is that over time both individually and collectively we are becoming dwelling places for the Holy Spirit. And this gets us back to the Lego Conundrum. If we both individually and collectively are being built into a God’s temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, if our faith is being built up so that we reach full maturity, and if we are to become people through whom other have encounters with the divine and holy how exactly are we to be built up? Is there a set of instructions that has to be followed or do we get built up by more creative means?
If you have ever glanced through the church leadership section of a Christian bookstore or book catalog, then you will notice there are no shortage of people who have written instruction books to be a Christian. These books often offer a highly structured approach. When these discipleship philosophies are applied on a church level it manifest itself as a series of classes that people must go through. Each time they advance to a new level of Christian leadership or discipleship, there is another class to attend. I am not disparaging this approach. For many people this kind of systematic process which flows a lot like following Lego instructions has worked really well. It has indeed built them up into faithful servants of Christ. However, a clearly delineated, highly structured step process is not the only way we are built up into God’s Holy Temple.
Other people take a much more creative path on the road to discipleship. One such example is 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon had a life changing experience at the age fifteen. It was at that time he became a Christian. Within a few months, at the age of 16 he was teaching a Sunday school class. In less than a year from his conversion, he preached his first sermon. Four years after his conversion experience, while still a teenager and with no formal college or seminary training, Spurgeon took his first pastorate. Throughout his life, Spurgeon would earn the title the “prince of preachers” and to this day he is widely considered to be one of the best and most effective preachers to ever live. He managed this without ever following any kind of instruction book, but God still managed to build up a man whose faith and words shared the gospel with thousands of souls.
This process of being built into a temple that houses the Holy Spirit is called discipleship, and there is not one right way to do it. The point is not how one is built up because it is God doing the building. The point is that we are being built up, we are becoming more Christ like, and that we are daily becoming a more suitable temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. Going back to the Lego Conundrum, if a child (or child at heart) decides Legos are best built as models and enjoyed by following the instructions and preserving them that way, then that is fine. If they decides Legos are blocks to build what their imagination creates then that is fine. The real tragedy would be if, paralyzed between the two options, people chose neither, and the incredible Lego sets collect dust in a box or sit unopened.
Our faith is the same way, if a highly structured regiment of bible study, prayer, and systematic instructions works for you then do that. If your faith works best when you put it into practice through serving others, or if you found your best times of prayer happen while you are cutting the grass, then do that. The method is not as important as the results here. The real tragedy is when our faith does not grow. Our faith should continue to grow so that when people encounter a believer the encounter God’s love by the way that we live our lives. Our faith should be built up so that the way we live naturally makes the world a more loving, peaceful, just, merciful, and grace-filled place. This idea of being made into a disciple is not a one-time commitment, it is a lifelong process of being built up, being God’s holy temple. To be that kind of disciple is exactly how we change the world and that is how everything is awesome.