Our family travelled to Atlanta to visit my wife’s family on the day after Christmas. One of their family traditions is that they all work a jigsaw puzzle together. It is usually 750- or 1000-piece puzzle. My sister-in-law tapes the box lid to wall in front of the table on which she scatters all the pieces. Everybody works the puzzle over the course of a couple days until it is finished.
This year I thought about how appropriate that tradition is when thinking about the arrival of the kingdom of peace we celebrate every Christmas. In the Bible, peace is defined most often as wholeness or completeness. I cannot think of a better illustration of biblical peace than a jigsaw puzzle.
As you know, the goal of working a puzzle is to put it together so that you have a finished picture. You also know that the puzzle begins as a picture and then is cut up into small pieces. Each fragment is a part of the whole, but they are all mixed up. And the best puzzle workers have a system for organizing those pieces and putting them back together.
Think about this with the reference to the human life in the context of the Bible’s story, if you will. The first humans were created good without fragmentation or defect. They were like the original picture of my sister-in-law’s puzzle before it was cut up. Over time, the first humans lost their original goodness by rebelling against their Creator, which led to the fragmentation of their lives as they sought to reclaim their initial goodness. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do it, no matter how hard they tried. All their efforts were for naught and led to more and more fragmentation. The same has been true for all of us since. We live fragmented lives while living in a fractured society.
This is what makes the Bible’s promise of peace so hopeful. God, by his grace, has collected, organized, and begun putting the pieces of our lives back together. He will complete this work at the end of time. So, we experience peace now through faith in Jesus as he puts the pieces of our lives back together. Day by day, he completes more of our puzzle, giving us a greater sense of peace.
One of the best effects of increased peace in our lives is that it makes us want to see other people enjoy the same sense of wholeness that we have. Therefore, we try to be those people whom God uses to help put the pieces together of the lives of our friends and family. As we do it, we will find that our society is more whole as well. And isn’t that what we want for ourselves and our society?
**This post originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 2, 2022 edition of The Chester News and Reporter of Chester, SC.