Puzzles, Maps, and the Meaning of Life

puzzleI’m currently working my way slowly through N.T.Wright’s latest (and massive) offering – Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Early on he uses a couple of lovely illustrations related to worldview. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them before in his work but I was struck again at how useful these two metaphors are for preaching that seeks to engage listeners with their view of life. So here they are – I hope they prove useful:

1. Puzzles. Life can be like a puzzle. For many people though they are trying to do the puzzle with only half the pieces. They’ve already decided that some of the pieces don’t belong and so have swept them off the table and onto the floor. As a consequence they are left struggling to but the bits together and make sense of the overall picture. If you sweep God off the table you’ll struggle to make sense of the puzzle that is life.

2. Maps. Maps are great. They enable you to place yourself in a wider terrain. Often we humans get lost and have a poor sense of direction and surroundings. A map enables you to get your bearings, to make sense of the landmarks around you, to understand where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you want to go. As a result you can set your direction accordingly. The map isn’t the terrain – you still have to navigate that, but a map helps you make sense of the terrain. Life without God is like a hike without a map.

Any other good metaphors you’d like to let me steal?

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