Some Assembly Required

Bible Text: Matthew 14:22-33, Romans 10:5-15 | Preacher: Rev.M. | Series: The Gospel According to Lego | Well, this morning we are going to be starting our new sermon series for the month of September called, “The Gospel of Lego”. Now I know what some of you may be thinking, Legos? What can Legos teach us about the gospel or even just faith? How can a child’s toy be relevant to this kind of discussion? Did the pastor hit his head on something hard recently? Well to answer that last one, no I did not…at least not that I remember… But I think over these next five weeks you will be surprised at just how much we can learn from these simple plastic creations.
In preparing for this series I have been reading a book by Joey Bonifacio called “The Lego Principle: The Power of Connecting to God and One Another”. Mr. Bonifacio serves in the International Apostolic Team of Every Nation Ministries. It is a worldwide family of churches and ministries that works to honor God by establishing Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries in every nation.

While I cannot claim an extensive knowledge of this group, the whole “Christ-centered” and “Spirit-empowered” and “socially responsible” part sounds something like our United Methodist faith.

For us to get a really full picture of just how our faith can be related to Legos, I would like to give you some background on this creative little toy that has inspired so many.

Ole Kirk Christiansen was a carpenter living in Billund, Denmark. He made household products from wood like stools, Christmas tree bases, ironing boards, and other such items. But in 1924, his two sons tried to light their oven in their home and ended up burning the house and the business completely down. Thankfully the children were all saved, but Ole Kirk’s business outlook was not shaping up so well. Then in 1932, the Great Depression hit the United States, and the ripple effect of that reached even out to Denmark.

Ole Kirk ended up letting his last employees go and his wife passed away soon after. At the age of 41, he was now left alone with four sons, not enough orders for his products, and a house he may not be able to continue to afford. But something else happened in 1932. That was when Ole Kirk began making wooden toys including yo-yos, wooden blocks, pull-along animals, and vehicles of all kinds. In a matter of only a few years, business was good again and Ole Kirk began to rebuild.

But then in 1942, another fire burned the new factory down and all of the production patterns were lost. This was also during a time when Europe was facing an escalating world war, so both his home products and his toys were not really in demand. But after the Second World War, quality wood was in short supply and plastic was beginning to dominate the world market. So, in 1947, Ole Kirk bought a plastic injection molding machine and began to make LEGO toys.

Now there is much more to the history of this company, but we don’t have time for all of that today. But something of note is that Ole Kirk Christiansen was a follower of Christ. Throughout all of his struggles and the heartbreak that he had endured before the breakthrough that would be the LEGO toys, it was his faith that kept him going. In fact, when the LEGO Company was still a small business, almost all the employees would meet together for a short prayer before beginning work.

Now you are probably still wondering what a LEGO toy has to do with faith. Well, let’s jump back into our Scripture reading for this morning. We find Jesus sending the disciples out into a boat to head to the other side of the lake while he dismisses the crowds. Then Jesus heads up onto a mountain to pray while the boat the disciples are in continued to move farther away from the shore. Then the next morning, Jesus comes towards the boat walking on water.

And it says in the text that, “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, ‘It’s a ghost!’ They were so frightened they screamed.” Now I can’t really fault the disciples here. I mean I know there are times in scripture where they seem kind of clueless, but I think their reaction here is warranted. I mean, how would you react if you saw someone walking across the water in the middle of a lake? You probably wouldn’t believe your eyes or may even be frightened.

We must remember that their fear was not a matter of unbelief, but rather the fact that they were seeing something that was so beyond their understanding. It’s likely they would have a similar reaction if you were to drive up in a car or show them an iPhone while using the FaceTime video chat program.

So, Jesus tells them to calm down that it’s just him and Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” Peter knows that if it is, in fact, Jesus that if Jesus would tell him to come out on the water and walk to him Jesus would make the water hold Peter up like Jesus was. So, Jesus tells him to come on out. And Peter does and begins to walk on the water towards Jesus. Hey alright! Things are going good right? Right?

Well, maybe not because as he’s walking towards Jesus Peter sees a strong wind and becomes frightened. And as he becomes frightened, he begins to sink into the water and shouts out to Jesus, “Lord, rescue me!” Peter became scared about what the strong wind would do to him and forgot at that moment that if Jesus was making the water hold him so that he could walk across it, the wind wouldn’t be an issue for Jesus to take care of either.

So, Jesus reaches out and grabs Peter and says to him, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” And I think this may have been a rhetorical question to be honest because I think both Jesus and Peter knew why. First off, Peter started out good. He trusted Jesus and readily walked across the water. But then he felt the fear that we all fear when we are faced with something in a situation that we cannot control. It didn’t matter that Jesus was allowing Peter to walk on water because Peter saw that strong wind and his only thought was probably how the strong wind would knock him over and he’d drown.
But second, Peter and the other disciples are still early in their faith of Jesus and what he has told them about. It even says in the last verse that, “Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, ‘You must be God’s Son!” Now, remember at the beginning of this story it says that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat. There isn’t mention of anyone else. And while we could speculate that there was someone in it to steer it or whatever, since several of the disciples had been fishermen, I don’t think they would have needed any help.

So, if it’s just the disciples and they are all saying, “You must be God’s Son!” then it shows that they are still building their faith in Jesus. So even though they had already seen Jesus heal people, heard him preach, and even calming the storm (that happens six chapters earlier) – even with all of that, they are still working to build their faith. The message that Jesus was bringing was radical. And in those times, there had been many false Messiahs. The Jewish people had been waiting a really, really long time for the coming Messiah and probably had become a bit skeptical after a few decades.

But I don’t think this should be a big surprise when we look at all of what was going on. Jesus was giving his disciples and followers all of these different pieces through his messages and his healing and his miracles. And it takes some time to put all of the pieces together to start to form something. Just like LEGOs.

If you have ever opened a new set of LEGOs or watched someone else do it, you find several plastic bags of little pieces and a set of directions. But even with those instructions, it still takes some time to put all of the pieces together until you get to the expected completed piece. With the disciples, Jesus was giving them not only the pieces but also the instructions to follow. But sometimes they didn’t understand exactly what Jesus meant so it took them a little bit longer to get things put together.

And there is another way that LEGOs and faith are alike. With LEGOs, you may finish putting together the set that you have, but it usually doesn’t stay that way for long. You tend to change it up a little bit here and there. You may even break it apart completely and build something completely different. And if you have more LEGOs, they are certainly going to be added in at some point to build something else. With LEGOs, you are never really done building.

The same is true of faith. Just when we think we have put the whole thing altogether, we are given more pieces to add. Sometimes our faith changes in small ways, or big ways, as our life progresses, and we learn more about God or things happen in our lives. Sometimes with faith, we need to tear it all down and build something new, something completely different. And when we share our faith with each other, we mix those pieces together to build something even bigger and better. Just like LEGOs.

When it comes to faith, we can’t just hand someone a Bible and say, “Okay, you’re a Christian now.” Faith requires some work. Yes, we have the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But we need to be active in this too. Faith is a lot like a box of LEGOs. We see what the completed picture looks like on the outside, but once we open it up and begin to build…well, we might build that same thing, or we might build something completely different. Because each of us are different.

Yes, our faiths share some commonalities. We share the belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that’s part of what makes us Christians. But we may not all picture Jesus the same way. We may not all share the same beliefs on how things are described in the Bible or how they are recorded as occurring. We may not all share the exact same feelings on many topics, but we all are building our faith.

Where we run into trouble though is when we stop building. Our faith is never fully complete. There is always something new every day that can help us in building our faith or restructuring part of our faith. I’m not saying every morning when you wake up you need to tear down your faith to nothing and begin rebuilding. But when we stop building at all, then something is going on.

If we stop building our faith does it mean that we are arrogant enough to think we are complete? Does it mean that we are struggling with our faith? Does it mean that we have given up on our faith? All of those are potential answers. But the key is to never stop building. We must always be willing to accept the new pieces of faith that we receive from God and the Holy Spirit and work to use them in our building of faith.

And think about it for a second. If you were to take 10 identical boxes of LEGOs with no instructions and given them to 10 different children, or adults for that matter and told them to build whatever they want – what do you think would happen? I think you’d get 10 different creations. Even if all of the pieces were the same, you could easily get 10 very different results. Just like faith. It was the faith of Ole Kirk Christiansen that got his through those tough times, a faith that he had to continue to build as do we all. Amen.