Bible Text: John 14:1-14, 1 Peter 2:2-10 | Preacher: Rev.M. | Series: The Gospel According to Lego | Today we are closing our September sermon series, “The Gospel According to LEGO”. Over these past few weeks we have talked about our faith through the lens of this wonderful plastic toy that has touched the hearts and lives of thousands of thousands and helped to open the minds and creativity of just as many.
We have spoken about how we must build our faith through the many blocks that God gives to us through the Holy Spirit. We also talked about how when we step on someone, or sin against them, not only are they hurt but so are we and so is God. We talked about how we are called to forgive each other, but that forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. We have also talked about how every piece has its place, as in every person has a place in the church and God’s love and grace. And last week, we talked about how God has called us to be connectors for others who have not yet come to know God.
So, this week, as we wrap everything up, we are going to talk about “Building Something Beautiful”. You know they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I think that’s probably true in many cases. And I fully understand that some people might look at a LEGO creation and see nothing more than a children’s toy or just a pile of plastic. That’s okay. I know that some of you love to go camping and when I look at a tent or even a fifth wheel, I see a torture chamber. So, it’s all good.
But for those who do look at a box of LEGOs and see limitless potential, or a finished creation and see the beauty that it holds – then you know those feelings and how far down they can reach inside of you. LEGOs can open up an unending world of creativity and possibility. From building spaceships to sprawling cities to boats that sail the seas, LEGOs allow us to imagine something new, something awesome, something beautiful.
So, we ask ourselves again, just what do these plastic toys have to do with our faith and our Scripture readings for this morning. Well, let’s go back to the second reading and dive into what we find there. As we enter the story, we find Jesus speaking with his disciples and he begins this section by tell them not to be troubled, or in some translations not to let their hearts be troubled. But would he start this way? Was there something on the faces of his disciples that told him that they were worried or upset?
Well, if we jump back to the previous chapter, number thirteen, we find Jesus telling the disciples about some of the negative things that were set to happen. In verses twenty-one through thirty, Jesus tells his disciples how one of them will betray him. They all begin to ask who it is and worry that it is themselves. And then in verses thirty-six through thirty-eight, Jesus announces how Peter will deny him three times.
So, it is easy to see how after hearing these things, the disciples would have been down, or depressed, or deeply upset. This whole time Jesus has been telling them about the great things to come, and now he is telling them about some awful things to come. Things that make them question themselves and each other. Who is the betrayer? Why is Peter going to deny Jesus? And how could he possibly do it not just once, but three times?
And seeing this, Jesus offers them some comfort. He tells them that they should trust in God and in him. He reminds them that God has prepared a place for them already for when Jesus returns to take them with him. Here he is giving them some hope despite the negative things he has just told them. He needed to tell them the negative things so that they would be understood for what they were. But now, he offers them some hope.
So, you are probably still wondering when I am going to get around to the whole LEGO connection with this Scripture. Well, remember how I talked previously about the building blocks of faith? We find many of those in this passage. Jesus presents several of them to his disciples in these passages.
“Trust in God. Trust also in me.” Right there we have one of the trust bricks. “I’m going to prepare a place for you.” A brick about Jesus taking care of us. “I will return and take you to be with me.” Here’s a brick about Jesus fulfilling his promises. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There’s three more right there. “The Father who dwells in me does his works.” There’s a brick that relates to the trinity as well as the divinity of Jesus. And there’s many more there.
As Jesus is offering these words of hope, another building block I might point out, he is giving the disciples more of these building blocks of faith. And the ones he is giving them here are not only some of the most foundational ones, but also ones that when put together with others would strengthen the overall faith being built. They would act as connectors between other building blocks and help make others more relevant and meaningful.
The sermon message today is titled, “Building Something Beautiful”. And what is more beautiful than someone’s faith in a loving, caring, and merciful God? What is more beautiful than putting together these building blocks of our faith that Jesus and the Holy Spirit continue to give to us? What is more beautiful than being a connector for others to God who have not yet come to know God’s grace and love, or the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
You see, one of the best things about LEGOs is that you can follow the directions to build what the picture on the outside of the box shows, or you can build something completely different and new. And while some of those new and different creations may seem strange or odd, they are still beautiful. They are beautiful in the eyes of the child or person who builds them. They are beautiful in the eyes of those who that child or person shows them to who love them.
I cannot tell you how many times I would make something out of my LEGOs and go running to show one of my grandmothers what I had built. And I would excitedly try to explain to them everything it did, and why I built it the way that I had, and all of the awesomeness that it held. But I know that I probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense or was rambling on. And yet…and yet they still would smile and nod along. They may not have understood everything I was trying to relay to them, but they still saw the beauty in the creative process that I was going through and as I explored my own sense of creativity.
And I think the same thing is true with faith. We might not always understand or agree with the building process for faith that others go through, but it doesn’t diminish the beauty of what they are making. A faith in God must be based in love and grace, and then new bricks added on over time as we grow in our understanding of God and our relationship with God strengthens and expands. And when love is the foundational piece, whatever is built will be beautiful in God’s eyes.
We all build different structures and creations when we build our faith. Just like ten people might build ten completely different things given the same pieces but no instructions. We all work with almost all of the same pieces, but we may get them at different times or in different sizes. They may be accompanied by different pieces when they come, or they may be on their own. Or we may even get several of the same pieces, all at once or over time.
But just as each of us are different and still beautiful in God’s eyes, so is our faith. God is just like one of my grandmothers as we show off what we have built with what God has given us. The difference of course being that God understands us completely and doesn’t just smile and nod along because God loves us. God also fully understands us and what we have built because God is the one who made the pieces of faith and sent them to us.
So okay, we’ve begun to build our faith. And remember we talked already about how we must never stop building because God is always sending us new pieces through our life experiences and through the Holy Spirit. But we’ve started building and you may be thinking…well, now what? What do we do with this faith that we have begun to build?
Do we put it up on a shelf somewhere to show off? Do we keep it somewhere locked away where it is safe from harm? Or do we actually DO something with it? Do we instead share it with our friends and loved ones, like we might with our toy LEGOs? Do we play with it, or rather use it, on a regular basis and derive joy from the experiences we encounter when doing so?
See that’s the thing. We could put our faith up on a shelf to admire from time-to-time. Or we could lock it up away somewhere, safe from harm. But is that what God has intended? Is that what God wants us to do with our faith? Didn’t Jesus say in our reading today that, “I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do ever greater works than there because I am going to the Father.”?
Jesus was telling his disciples that their faith would bring them to do follow in his footsteps, to spread the gospel and the love of God to all people. Jesus even says that those who believe in him will go on to do even greater works because he is returning to the Father. Jesus didn’t want the disciples to stay hidden away. He didn’t want them to keep their faith high up away on some shelf or locked away somewhere safe from harm.
Jesus wanted them to lead with their faith and to follow the work that he had already begun. “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” Well let’s look at the works of Jesus, shall we? Jesus healed the sick. Jesus fed the hungry. Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus taught the people about God. Jesus showed mercy and compassion on the people. Jesus spread the hope of the gospel among the people. Jesus loved the people.
And guess what? As Christians who claim a belief in Christ, we should be following in his footsteps in his works. We need to help find ways to heal the sick. We need to come together to feed the hungry. We need to interact with all people, sinners and saints. We need to teach people about God. We need to show mercy and compassion to people. We need to spread the hope of the gospel among the people of the world. We need to love ALL people.
And when we do those things, and we continue to build our faith with the blocks that God continues to give to us – when all of that happens, that is when we build something truly beautiful. Something founded on the purest love of God for God’s creation. Something that can be shared and given to others who need it. Something that defines not just who we are, but who’s we are. Amen.