Having recently watched The Lego Movie, Lego has been somewhat on my mind of late. Downloading a free Lego CAD program may have something to do with it, but while playing with it, a thought struck me that the Bible talks quite a lot about building, and we might conceivably see what happens when we throw Lego into that conceptual mix.
What might my favourite toy have to say about Christ building His Church, or us being built together into a spiritual house?
Lego bricks are all different
There are, or have been, literally thousands of different Lego bricks over the years. (Side note: the American habit of calling them “Legos” still sounds wrong to me. One Lego brick, two Lego bricks, a whole bucket full of Lego. No “s”). Some, like the old-style fences, doors and wheels, have been superseded and you never see them any more unless you have inherited Lego from a previous generation. Some, like the brick with “LL929” inscribed on it (from the new Benny’s Spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP!!! Set) only exist in a single set and are very specific. Some, like the 2×4 bricks, are as old as Lego itself. Some are brand new.
But there are thousands of different types, and they all have their role.
You can’t build a proper house out of Classic Space Lego robot arms or cruciform Technic axles, but each of these bricks is exactly right when you need it.
There’s an obvious Scriptural parallel here. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of smell be?” Each one of us has gifts. Some are more “unique” than others and considered “special”, yet it’s the “boring” 2×4 and 1×4 bricks that are the staples of almost all construction and often see most use. People aren’t Lego (not even the little mini-figures), but it’s a good lesson. You may be a “generic”, “boring” red 2×4 brick, but God made you just like that for a reason. You’re probably one of the mainstays of His building. Or you may be an esoteric, forgotten piece like an old-style 1×4 red crisscross fence. Be encouraged! He may not be making any more like you, but your very rarity makes you special. You’re not forgotten by Him, and He still has a purpose for you. Or you may be a brand-new Bilbo Baggins minifigure. You feel out of place in a Lego City environment, but you, too, have a purpose, and He may still have yet to reveal all of your uses.
Lego bricks are all the same
Despite their considerable diversity, all Lego bricks fit together. Each stud on the top of each brick is exactly the right size and shape to fit into the hole in the bottom of each other brick and hold the two together. This is what makes Lego such a genius toy. (Yes, some bricks don’t have studs but are flat on the top, and a few are flat on the bottom. But there’s no such thing as a Lego brick with neither studs nor holes nor any other way of connecting).
Even Duplo bricks are compatible with Lego bricks, and vice-versa. A 2×4 Lego brick will fit together with a 1×2 Duplo brick either on top or on the bottom, and one Duplo brick is exactly two Lego bricks high.
This, too, has obvious Scriptural parallels.
The Bible makes it clear that our different gifts are designed to fit together in His Kingdom. Indeed, our different gifts mean that we need each other: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you’.”
You can’t build a Lego car without wheels, but neither can you build one with only wheels. You need something to attach the wheels to, and a windscreen, doors, steering wheel, all the other parts, as detailed as you want to go in the scale you’re working in.
In my opinion, sometimes we arrange things almost exactly opposite to this way. Instead of building different “bricks” together to make what the Master Builder is conceiving, we sort ourselves out as if for storage in some particularly anal-retentive kid’s playroom. Wheels go with wheels. All 1xwhatever bricks go together. All slopes go together, sorted by angle and by whether they are a regular or inverted slope. All mercy-oriented people go together over here, and they never impinge on the domain of the leadership types over there, or of the musicians over there.
Sometimes I think we’d do better to scatter the people with evident gifts in amongst others who aren’t of like gifting. A car is not just made of wheels, even a Lego space crawler with 18 axles, nor is the Body of Christ composed of all nerve cells over here, all muscle cells over there, all digestive tract cells over there and all sensory cells in a pile over here.
Lego comes in all different colours
This is especially true in recent years. I remember when you couldn’t find a green Lego brick that wasn’t a tree, flowers or a baseplate. Pink Lego did not exist, and the only brown was minifigure hair. My mother remembers when Lego came in red and white, and that was it.
I could talk about race and the Church here. It’s an interesting conversation to have, but I don’t think I’m the one to address it. Instead I’m going to build on what I’ve already said about Lego being all different.
A white 2×8 plate (flat brick) is manifestly not the same as a blue one or a red one. I was always pretty fanatical about colour matching in my creations; I hated to have to put in odd-coloured bricks just to make it work structurally. But you saw photos every so often of models that looked for all the world as if they were assembled by colourblind kids. For all I know, they might have been.
The point is, they may have offended my childhood sense of aesthetics, but they worked.
Sometimes we do need to change where we are or what we’re doing in order to fulfill your calling in God. But sometimes we need to stop moaning and whining about being a blue brick in amongst a jumble of red, black and yellow ones and knuckle down to using our Divinely-given gifts where He’s put us. Sometimes only one transparent neon orange brick on its own is all that’s needed right there. It can be uncomfortable having to rub shoulders with those so unlike ourselves, but if that’s where He’s put us, sometimes we just need to trust Him.
Lego doesn’t build itself
And my mother would no doubt add that it doesn’t clear itself up, either. Lego doesn’t decide for itself how it’s going to be put together, nor does one brick order another around. There’s typically one builder, and it’s not any of the bricks. The hand of one greater assembles the pieces just where she or he wants them, and the Lego bricks themselves have as much say in the matter as we do in who our parents are.
Playing with Lego with my kids, I’m aware that we are finite in wisdom and knowledge. Even as a child, I’d frequently try something one way, and decide that it wasn’t going to work, and try something else.
God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. He doesn’t have to go through that process of trial and error. He gets it right, first time.
There are two errors we make in regard to Lego not building itself.
The first is to think that the Master Builder doesn’t know what He’s doing. We complain about the small stuff, we worry, we get afraid. No, He hasn’t abandoned you, and He hasn’t dropped the ball. His way may be dark to us, but that’s not the same as our way being dark to Him. He’s the Light. How can He not be able to see?
The second is to try to build our own model. This can take the form of human kingdom-building in what ought to be God’s One Kingdom, or trying to “help” God or manipulate Him into doing things our way.
Well, God will not be manipulated. He’s going to do what’s best, and He really does know better than we what that is. And He doesn’t share His glory. This, too, is for our good; human beings aren’t built for glorification by ourselves. It’s like trying to attach two Lego bricks together stud-to-stud (incidentally, I wish there was a way to do this, or the other way round). It’s not going to hold together unless you cheat and use glue, and then you can’t get it apart again afterwards.
There’s one Master Builder, and it isn’t you.