Select Wisdom Brand
(Romans 12:3–8) Solving Rubik's Puzzle

(Romans 12:3–8) Solving Rubik's Puzzle

Ref: Romans 12:3–8

Think you don't need the whole church scene? Well think again! Jesus established the local church because it's something we need spiritually, so join Stephen now to rediscover why.


In light of our current study on the subject of finding your fit in the body of Christ – finding your place in the puzzle, I have spent some time researching puzzles and their use and popularity, not only in American history but world history.

I have since had my definition of “puzzle” greatly expanded.  I’ve discovered puzzles with moving parts.  Puzzles in the shape of animals, ships and boats.  Round puzzles, square puzzles, puzzles that stack into miniature buildings . . . I even found puzzles that glow in the dark. 

And then I came across the story of the most famous puzzle of all time – a puzzle with moving parts.  A puzzle with literally millions of possible moves.

This particular puzzle with moving parts is named after its Hungarian inventor, Mr. Erno Rubik. 

Rubik’s cube has become so globally popular, in fact, that one eighth of the world’s population has purchased one.

Each side of the cube, which fits in one hand, has it’s own color. The cube is divided into three rows or layers and each layer is divided into nine cubes.  Each row or layer can be turned horizontally or vertically. 

The challenge is to twist and turn the layers until different colored cubes are all mixed up . . . and then, return the cube to it’s original design, with all the colors matching on all 6 panels.

I can remember trying myself in high school . . . and failing.  500 million other people have tried as well.

Did you know there are clubs in numerous countries devoted to solving the puzzles of the Cube.  There are internet sites, chat rooms, contests.

I found pages and pages of diagrams, instruction, short-cuts, advice, analysis, special moves and turns to solve problem positions, including discussion on algorithms or mathematical formulas for solving problems.

Since I barely got a D- in High-school algebra, you can imagine why I didn’t join the club.

What I found interesting is that Erno Cubik never planned to invent the best selling toy puzzle in history.  It was the structural design that intrigued this professor of Applied Arts and Design.  He wanted to create something with many blocks with could move independently without falling apart.

So in 1974 he hand-carved little wooden blocks and assembled them together, marking each one with a different color.  When he first twisted the cube and mixed the colors up, it took him a month to return it to it’s original position.

The world record for returning Rubik’s cube to it’s original position was accomplished in 1982.  A Vietnamese student solved the puzzle in 22.9 seconds.  That record still stands, even though there is an international competition held in the hometown of Erno Rubik every year. 

To this day, no one has solved the puzzle in less than 52 moves, although computer analysis suggests it can be solved in only 22 moves.  But, cube experts agreed, it would require omniscience to do it in only 22 moves.  It would require that all the possible millions of potential moves would have to be known at once, and no move could be wasted.

Today, more than 500 million cubes have been sold around the world.  This year, by the way, marks the 35th anniversary of what has been called, the best known puzzle in the world.

Adapted  from “The History of Rubik’s Cube”

On that point I would kindly disagree.

The best known puzzle in the world today, having been in existence not for 35 years, but for nearly 2,000, is the body of Christ – the church of our Living Lord.  There are millions of moving parts . . . all fitted together in one Body.

But on this I would agree.  Rubik’s cube experts have calculated that it would require an omniscient being to put the puzzle together in 22 moves . . . some all knowing being who could know all the possible scenarios and options . . . someone who would know where each individual piece is located at any given time, after every possible move.

So also, the greatest, most globally practiced  puzzle of all – the church – requires an omniscience Being who knows where every member of the puzzle is at any given time.  One who knows all the possible millions of potential moves any one of us could contribute to the Body, without any move being wasted.

The inventor of this puzzle was not a Hungarian, or an American, but a Galilean Jew.

God in the flesh.

And to this day, according to His promise, He is building His church, putting all the pieces of the puzzle together . . . and the gates of Hell, He promised, will fail in every attempt to destroy it. (Matthew 16:18)

In our last session we talked about the universal church which comprises all believers from Pentecost, the birthday of the church, to today.

This church is invisible to us, since it includes every Christian from the past 20 centuries and the beginning of the 21st.

Then there is the local church – the church at Jerusalem; the church at Antioch and then churches which spread beyond that and around the world . . . even to this day, a local church assembling at 6051 Tryon Road in Cary, N.C.

These buildings are not the church – the church is all the moving parts!  With millions of options and possibilities.

The New Testament spells out for us that there are offices of authority to follow (I Timothy 3)

there is order to respect (I Corinthians 14)

there is doctrine to teach and defend (Titus 1)

there are gifts to be exercised (Romans 12)

there is a mission to fulfill (I Corinthians 15)

there are relationships to develop (Ephesians 4)

there are dangers and false teaching to avoid (Acts 20)

there are funds to invest in God’s work (2 Corinthians 8)

there are ordinances to practice (Matthew 28 & I Corinthians 11)

there are, unique to every congregation, opportunities to seize (Revelation 2 & 3)

And that’s just the beginning of what we do around here.

So the question for the believer is not, “Do I really need the church?” But, “How can I live without it?” 

Since it is God’s primary instrument in both developing the believer and reaching the world, isn’t the question, “Okay, where do I sign on?”  “Where can I find my place in this magnificent puzzle?

And then, we all should ask, “How do we fit together in this puzzle – this local assembly which has been Divinely designed by the Puzzle Master . . . the Lord Jesus Christ?”

The Apostle Paul is in the process of answering that question in Romans 12.  And he’s doing it much faster than I am.

In fact, today we merely continue the process of setting up the puzzle table.

We have already been encouraged by Paul to approach this subject with an attitude of humility.

Paul writes in verse 3 “. . . that a believer should not think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”

You cannot approach the puzzle of Christ’s church and discover your own place without this basic principle called humility.

Then Paul informs us that we’re to maintain the principle of unity.

In verses 4 and 5, he repeats the expression, “one body” twice. 

As if to say, even though we consist of a lot of moving parts, we are one complete puzzle.

Our pieces interlock.

Third, we discovered the principle of diversity.   Though we are many one body, “we all do not have the same function” (5a)and then in verse 6a, “since we have gifts that differ.”

In other words, a unified church is not a uniform church. 

Unity is not the same thing as uniformity, although much of the Christian world segments itself according to non-doctrinal traditions and preferences.

Fourth, we uncovered the principle of accountability.

Paul says in verse 5b, “we are individually members one of another.”

We belong to one another.  We have a responsibility to each other.  Every Christian is a blood relative – the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us and given us access into the Family of God.

And I ask you again in this session – is there room in your life for the rest of us?

Is there any time for us?

Besides Sunday morning, does the church every get on your to-do list?

If your answer is yes, and I believe Paul assumed it would be, he now moves to the final principle – which is the logical next step – it is the principle of availability.

The last part of verse 6, implied by the context and direction of Paul’s exhortation – 6.  “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.”

In other words, assuming there is a desire to serve, now there needs to be discovery of where to serve.

And Paul gives a rather short list of possibilities – not exhaustive, but enough to get the Roman church and every church since then plenty to think and pray about.

In verse 6 Paul mentions prophecy;

In verse 7, service and teaching;

In verse 8, he mentions the gift of exhortation, giving, leading and showing mercy.

You can imagine that there are a million ways to exercise these gifts.

It’s as if Paul is drawn to the conclusion and says to each one of us – “Do something!”  “Act!” 

Don’t read these verses and passed them off . . . they are meant to be practiced.

This is the picture on the puzzle box . . . this is what a church should look like . . . and here are the pieces.

Paul’s passion here about the role of the individual believer is echoed in other passages and by other Apostles.

Like Peter who wrote, “As each one of you has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another.” (I Peter 4:10)

Paul wrote to Timothy and strongly urged him, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.” (I Timothy 4:14)

Don’t neglect it – don’t ignore it – don’t pack it away – use it!

Before Niccolo Paganini died, this world famous violinist, composer willed his personal violin to the city of Genoa. Under one condition . . . it would never be played again.  It had to be preserved . . . never played.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we as believers were created as Christ’s workmanship unto good works – we were literally composed for service.  In other words, we were meant to be played!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jesus Christ never called any of us to a life of preservation, but participation.

In fact, Jesus Christ once startled potential disciples by saying, “If you want to lose your life, keep it to yourself; but if you want to find life, be prepared to give your life away.” (Matthew 16:25 paraphrase)

We are not preserves – like my grandmother used to have in thick masonry jars sitting in the dark basement until some unknown day.  We are basins of water, ready at the door for the first pair of dirty feet that happen to walk by.

So before Paul talks about specific terms of ministry within the church;

  • he spends time informing us on how to approach one another;
  • what we should pursue as we serve one another,
  • why we should serve one another
  • and now, are we willing to serve one another.

Which is in perfect order . . . you see availability precedes opportunity.

The reason many Christians do not sense opportunity from God is because God already knows they are unavailable.

They have hung out on the door handle of their hearts, “do not disturb.”

So let me dig a little deeper in this area . . . let’s explore further this principle of availability.

Um, if you want to obey Paul’s challenge to exercise your gift accordingly . . . you’re gonna need to be willing to do 4 things and – you’re going to have to refuse to do 4 things.

Here are four challenges regarding your spiritual gift:

  1. If you’re gonna exercise your gift, first of all, you’re gonna have to discover it!  Discover it!


Let me give you two key words to consider:

1)  The first key word is exposure.

  • Exposure before God in prayer.

This step really never ends, by the way. You find your gifted role in the body through prayer and you exercise your gift through prayer, under-girded with prayer, empowered by prayer.


Corrie Ten Boom once asked the perceptive question, “Is prayer your steering wheel or spare tire?”

  • Exposure before the word for insight.

Stay distant from the word of God and you will never feel close to the family of God!

If you want to find your fit in the family of God, you must spend time in the word of God.

  • Then there is exposure before others for counsel.

Let others affirm and encourage your choice of ministry avenue. 

Expose yourself to the opportunities . . . then pray with the facts in front of you . . . search the scriptures for insight and direction . . . talk to others about your leaning, your struggle, your search.

The first key word is exposure.

2)  The second word is experimentation.

I found it interesting that a well known author on the subject of spiritual gifts has come to a place where he recently wrote that after 25 years of giving all sorts of guidelines on discovering and utilizing your spiritual gifts, he has come to the conclusion that the best advice he can give a believer who is walking with Christ, desiring to be used of the Lord – is this one word – experiment.

What do you think you’d like to do?  What do you enjoy doing?  Where has God blessed your efforts?

That doesn’t mean it’s all roses – we’ll talk about that in a minute.

This fits well with what we discovered in Romans 12 verse 2.  Follow after God . . . stay in His word, pursue purity, seek to please Him and then – do whatever you’d like to do!

If you’re not sure where to start, call us.

Sit down and talk to one of our Next Step Counselors who have notebooks filled with ministry opportunities.

Did you know that we have 111 ministries actively serving Christ, not only here but in the community.  111 ministries which require 2,058 volunteers to pull off!

I emailed every department and asked them for some of these 2,058 jobs.

They sent back some of the more obscure, out of the spotlight ministry services:

  • Like the volunteer who regularly clips coupons and organizes them for families in need of cost saving measures.
  • Or the volunteers who have come in for months to do nothing more than roll pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
  • Or like the mother and her two daughters who come in once a week to gather up all the stuff left at the church and store them in cabinets for the pastoral staff – I mean, the lost and found. 
  • I’ll admit, I have rarely had to buy an umbrella.  Go over there – stacks of clothing, dishes, rings, earrings, toys, books, shoes – whatever it is you bought your kids last Christmas – it’s over there.

2,058 pieces of the puzzle who found their fit!

Discover yours through exposure and experimentation.

The second challenge that emanates from Paul’s exhortation to exercise your gift accordingly;

Not only are you to discover it, you are to:

  • Develop it!

I’m afraid that many Christians have the idea that finding your spiritual gift will be only those things which come easily, with no effort or discipline or practice or study or research or development.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, a gift is not so much a ready-made ability to perform, but rather a capacity for service that must be developed.

Kenneth O. Gangel, You and Your Spiritual Gifts (Moody Press, 1975), p. 9

It’s going to take time and effort to contribute that particular piece to the puzzle.

Discover your gift . . . develop your gift

Third challenge

  • Delight in it!

God has specifically designed you to make a contribution.

There aren’t many things you come in contact with that will last forever . . . people do!

And your gift is the primary avenue through which you connect people to the grace of God.

Remember, Peter said, “Through our spiritual gifts we are stewarding – dispensing – the manifold grace of God to other.”

This is how your life experiences – the good and bad – your passion and personality and education and spiritual interests come together and through your placement in the Body, you effectively serve the Body and bring glory to God?

The Apostle John faithfully taught and evangelized and discipled new believers for years.  He wrote, “I have no greater joy than to know my children are walking according to the truth.” (3 John 4)

He didn’t say, “I have no greater joy than to know I’m one of the 12 Apostles . . . I have no greater joy than to know that I’ve written 5 Books in the New Testament.”

You don’t sit around and admire yourself . . . you admire God and thank Him for what His divine design in your own life has allowed you to do in the lives of others – the lives you teach, and reach, and encourage, and confront, and evangelize and restore and disciple and intercede for and give to.

Discover it . . . develop it . . . delight in it . . .

Here’s a fourth challenge - don’t despair because of it.

People will bring you your greatest joy and they will bring you your greatest sorrow.

Will you serve them?

Will you not grow weary in doing good? (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

Every dedicated servant of Christ knows the wilderness of serving . . . that person you tried to help went right back into their destructive, sinful lifestyle . . . “what’s the use?  People don’t change . . . they don’t care . . . this is difficult and lonely and sometimes just plain drudgery.”

  • Will you be content with the promise of Christ that your Heavenly father is faithful and He sees in secret and He will reward you? (Matthew 6:4)
  • Will you cling to the promise that your work in the Lord will not be in vain? (I Corinthians 15:58)
  • Are you willing to serve Christ, and not care who gets the credit?
  • Are you willing to fail at some attempt to serve, without giving up completely?
  • Are you available to keep experimenting . . . praying . . . searching, studying, adapting to change and growth?

I love the story of the little 5 year old boy who was out in his backyard.  He had his baseball cap on, his baseball knickers on and his socks pulled up to his kneecaps.  He had his plastic bat and plastic ball and you can just imagine him as he practiced out in his backyard.  His mother overheard him as he announced, “I am the greatest hitter in the world.”  He then threw the ball up in the air and then swung the bat, missing the ball completely.  He said aloud, “Strike one.”  He picked the ball up and said, a little louder, “I am the greatest hitter in the world.”  He threw the ball up and swung – again missing the ball.  He said, “Strike two.”  He stopped to examine his bat – guys learn early on to blame their equipment.  He retrieved the ball and said with determination, “I am the greatest hitter in the world.”  He threw the ball up a little higher than before, got set, then swung the bat with all his might.  He missed.  “Strike three” he said, and then added, “I am the greatest pitcher in the world.”

Oh that we would adapt so easily.  We might dream of being a power hitter for God –

but God wants us to be a pitcher instead;

or sit on the bench and keep the stats;

or join the training squad . . . or wash the uniforms;

or purchase the equipment;

or rake the infield . . . or mow the outfield.

All of it is necessary to pull off the game . . .

That leads me to toss in one more challenge.

It’s a well worn phrase, but you can hear it in the middle of Romans 12 verse 6.  “let each one of us exercise our gift accordingly.”

In other words, “Don’t just stand there . . . or sit there . . . do something!”

Pure and simple . . . just do it!

You say, “Well I won’t do anything until I discover my gift.”

As one author wrote, tongue in cheek, but you get the point when he said, “Even God can’t steer a parked car.”

Put it in first gear . . . look around . . . make an appointment . . . make a phone call or two . . . open your eyes.

There are so many things that can be done in a growing family of believers . . . we don’t need to sit around and wait for somebody to feel gifted.

When you’re walking down the church corridor and you see some trash on the floor, don’t ask, “Do I have the gift of service.” Pick it up.

If you see a child walking down the hallway crying, obviously lost and separated from his family, don’t ask yourself, “Do I have the gift of mercy?” Just help.

If you hand off your child to the teacher, only to discover a room full of kindergartners and a teaching staff that is unexpectedly shorthanded because two assistants are out sick; you don’t need to hold a prayer rally in the hallway asking God for more gifted teachers. 

Roll up your sleeves and dive into the wiggling mass of future leaders.  You just might have the time of your life!  It might just be that act of availability that leads to discovery.

And there’s no telling what you’ll learn from all those children.

From what I hear, children seldom misquote their parents in Sunday School. In fact, they usually repeat word for word things their parents said.

Then they make up stuff too, for fun!

When my oldest daughter, who is now 18, was in her 4 year old Sunday school class at Colonial, the teacher was going around the room asking for prayer requests.  When the teacher got to her, my daughter said, “Pray for my Daddy, he’s got a drinking problem.”  I have no idea where she got that from – to this day, it’s a mystery.  The teacher said, “Excuse me?”  “Oh yea,” she said, “my Daddy’s got a drinking problem . . . we really need to pray for him.”

. . . probably the highlight of that teacher’s career.

This is the principle of availability!

Discover it!

Develop it!

Delight in it!

Don’t despair in it!

Just do it.

What happens as a result?

Well, as I read those articles on Rubik’s cube, I found it interesting that Mr. Rubik’s primary fascination which led to the invention of the cube, was a desire to see an object with moving parts which could move independently, and yet not fall apart.

Individual movement without disconnection.

Moving parts without division.

What a picture of the body of Christ – universal and local.

Moving parts . . . unified hearts.

Independent actions with a thousand possibilities . . . but with a singular passion:

     to glorify the Lord of the universe by building a lighthouse;

a center for learning . . .

a training station for disciples . . .

a resting place for the weary . . .

            a water fountain for the thirsty;

and on and on and on.

And then, at special times like Sunday morning, when all the moving parts assemble – we worship together the One and only, true and living Savior, who is Jesus Christ our Lord!

Add a Comment

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.
CLICK HERE to make a difference.