Alliteration is a great tool to get people to take notice but in this case putting Jesus and the popular game Jenga™ in the same sentence may do much more. Because of this, I believe I should make a few things clear. I have not found any scriptures that lead me to believe that Jesus played Jenga™. I do not believe that Jesus has or ever will promote the game Jenga™. I do not believe that following Christ requires the playing of Jenga™. Lastly, and probably most important, just because I am using the name of the popular game Jenga™, doesn’t mean that I am promoting the game Jenga™, nor am I under any obligation to mention the game Jenga™, and I do not receive any money or other benefits from using the name of the popular game Jenga™ over and over again in this blog – but I should!
What is this Jenga™ you keep talking about?
Jenga™ is three rectangular blocks side by side stacked on top of another row of three rectangular blocks side by side at 90°. This is repeated until a tower is created. The goal is to remove one rectangular block from a lower row and place it on top of the tower without causing the tower to collapse.
Steady hands and focus is required, but more importantly the understanding that each block you remove also removes support from under the structure and places additional load at the top of the structure. The outcome of the game will always be the same, the tower will fall. The only thing that is in question is which move will finally destabilize the pile enough to cause its collapse.
Life as a Christ follower and in the collective of Christ followers can end up a lot like Jenga™.
Christian books on how to do life or build your church have become more and more popular. There are some that I take issue with because they are based on the assumption that my faith is too weak or my desire too limited to bring about personal healing or to cause church attendance to skyrocket. That being said, most of these of books have great ideas to be prayerfully considered.
Unfortunately, the ideas, programs and philosophies in these books are often adopted as if they somehow contain the entire intentions of God for us as individuals and as churches. Existing practices are often replaced by the latest trend under the assumption that they are no longer needed. This isn’t to say that change isn’t needed from time to time, but like Jenga™ the more you remove of the foundation, the closer you come to collapse.
As Christ followers and as a collective of Christ followers, some things cannot be removed.
My talents and giftings are all centred around the stage. Music and theatre influence my thoughts and are the substance of my dreams, preaching and leading worship the fulfillment of my calling. I have been blessed with the opportunity to use my giftings and talents in the church but I have also been careful not to place the presentation before the preparation. As careful as I have been, I still sometimes fail to make preparation the main priority. It isn’t that I do not practice enough when it comes to theatre and music or take enough time to research and write my sermon, I consider that part of the presentation. Preparation needs to take place long before that.
Preparation is not about getting ready for a specific task, it’s about getting in line with God’s plan.
- A repentant heart and a changed and constantly changing approach to life is at the foundation of God’s plan. Salvation is not a moment to be embraced but a lifestyle change to be lived.
- Connecting with God through prayer, study and Christian fellowship is part of His plan to support our life journey and cannot be sacrificed.
- Our desires must be brought under the authority of God and our motives limited to the furthering of His plan. God has both the plan that is identical for everyone and a plan that is specific for each Christ follower and the collective of Christ followers to which they belong.
Jenga™ removes the things needed to maintain stability in favour of adding things to increase visibility.
Each block removed from the bottom helps to build a bigger tower while at the same time sacrificing the foundation. Churches and lives that lack repentant hearts, prayer, study, Christian fellowship and refuse to place their desires under the authority of God and align their motives with His plan, can still appear to be doing God’s work. Sadly, sacrificing the foundation will always end in collapse.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:21-27 (NIV)