Summary: A needed skill in the Christian life is to "connect the dots" both in our acts of service to God and in understanding His sovereign care and perfect plans.
Connect the Dots
March 27, 2011
There are a lot of skills we need in life to cope with the realities of our daily existence. For example, we need to learn to get along with people, because without that skill, almost anything we do in life will be difficult if not impossible.
We need to learn to care for our basic health needs. In most cases, no one’s going to do that for us. More and more, we need to know some of the basics of how to use a computer, because we need that skill in school, in the workplace, and beyond.
There’s another skill I want to focus on this morning, one we don’t always think of as a needed skill. When we’re thinking about how and why some things happen in life, a critical skill to develop is to learn to connect the dots.
Now, you know the old game – you have a picture made partially or entirely of dots, and you have to draw connecting lines, usually in the correct order, to see the whole picture.
Once you do that, in the metaphorical connecting of the dots, you begin to understand how things fit together, cause and effect, relationships between events in your life.
To help us think about how this skill looks in real life, I’ve devised a little quiz.
Gordon drives his sporty little Mazda 3 at 90 miles per hour on the interstate and is pulled over by a state trooper. The trooper gives Gordon a:
• friendly greeting
• speeding ticket
Maren prefers sleeping late to showing up at work on time. After arriving at the office two to three hours late for two weeks in a row, Maren’s boss tells her to:
• get to bed a little earlier
• take some vacation time to rest up
• look for another job
As a result of their choices, Gordon and Maren will likely both experience unpleasant consequences. But, if they learn to connect the dots, between their behavior, and what happens as a result of their behavior, Gordon will be a safer driver, and Maren will be a better employee. And maybe even keep her job.
We learn to connect the dots every day in little things and big things.
Eat too much – gain weight
Sit too much – gain weight
Eat ice cream for breakfast lunch and dinner – gain weight
Beat your head against the wall – headache
Other dots take longer to connect – in other words, it’s a longer, more circuitous route to get from point a to point z. And I think this is where we sometimes struggle in our spiritual lives, perhaps because the connections aren’t as apparent, though with some thought and insight, sometimes they may really be just as clear as these simple examples.
When you connect the dots, you understand the connections and relationships between the things you do and the things that happen.
Sometimes those things that happen may be far removed from your own experience, but there are still dots connecting them, if you can follow them far enough.
There are several ways we could examine this idea and gain from understanding it, but this morning, I’d like to focus on two specific ways that connecting the dots relates to our relationship with Christ.
First, I’d like us to explore how to connect the dots in our daily choices of what we do, how we serve Him, and in our prayers, and our giving, and what that means as we follow Jesus.
Secondly, I’d like us to consider how to connect the dots in God’s advancement of His Kingdom, and His perfect plans and purposes, for us as individuals, as well as human history.
The best way to look at connecting the dots when it comes to our service to God as believers is to review Paul’s wonderful word picture of the body of Christ at work.
1 Cor. 12:12-27 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.