Sunday night, following the Cleveland Cavaliers improbable come back to win the NBA championship after being down 3-1, they revealed their secret motivation.
For the past 8 weeks this secret weapon had been concealed in a container they carried from game to game and kept in their locker room. It was a four-foot puzzle that formed the image of the Larry O’Brien championship Trophy.
Credit veteran James Jones, a reserve forward with a playoff experience, with the idea. Looking for a way to symbol to inspire their collective spirit during the playoff run, Jones formed the idea of a puzzle with 16 pieces, one for each victory required to win the title.
“We needed something to bring us together,” Jones said. “Every guy was a piece. We assembled this team. So we had to assemble the puzzle.” Following each win, when the media had left the locker room, a different player would come forward to add his piece to the puzzle. Sometimes the player selected was honored because he was the hero of that victory. Other times it was given to a player who just need some encouragement. Like Kevin Love after he had to miss game 3 with a concussion.
Following the on court celebration, with the real trophy in hand, the 16th piece was revealed. It was the middle piece with a shape of the state of Ohio. That honor was given to Coach Tyronn Lue who put the final piece of the puzzle in place.
The puzzle was complete. The trophy secured. And the journey completed.
“Together, that’s how you win a championship,” Jones said. “Individually we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role, everyone has to have their piece.”
When I read the story of the Cavs’ puzzle, I immediately thought, “Isn’t that the way God’s people, the church, are to function.
Many metaphors and analogies are used to identify and explain the church. Body. Temple. Family. Kingdom. Bride. Members. Sheep. Disciples. And citizens. All of these speak to relationships. Community. Commonality. And closeness.
We, too, are a team. A spiritual team. God’s team. And for our team to win we must be together. Pull together. And share together.
The book of Acts, a history of the early church, often speaks of the Christians’ togetherness. Luke says they assembled together. Prayed together. And ate together from house to house.
The New Testament epistles further emphasize the need for unity, fellowship and being together with the many “one another” passages. We are to encourage one another. Edify one another. Care for one another. Forgive one another. Accept one another. Comfort one another. And love one another.
Indeed we are all a piece of the puzzle in God’s Family. Men. Women. Young. Old. Seasoned disciples. New Christians. One talent people. Two talent people. Five talent people. Elders. Deacons. Teachers. Preachers. All are needed. All are valuable. All add to the success of our spiritual endeavors.
Jones’ metaphor carries greater implications than just winning a basketball championship. God purposed that we be together on His team.
Individually? We’re all just a piece of the puzzle. Everyone has their own role. Collectively? We can do great things for God.
If you’re not a part of God’s team, you need to become a member. There’s a piece of the puzzle just for you.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman