What Will Define You?
In 1974 an architect at the University of Technology in Budapest, Hungary, by the name of Erno Rubik created a model to help explain three-dimensional geometry. Though not his original intent, his invention, in time, revolutionized the toy industry. It was at first called the “Magic Cube” but was eventually renamed after its creator — the “Rubik’s Cube.”
It’s the toy the world never should have known. At the time of its creation Hungary was a part of the communist regime veiled behind the Iron Curtain. That made exporting inventions a difficult endeavor. Making the Rubik’s Cube famous would require someone with a great deal of dedication and perseverance.
Tom Kremer: The Devotion Behind the Invention
It was a man named Tom Kremer, a Hugarian born Jew who escaped the Nazi concentration camp at Belsen when he was only 13 years of age, who would lead the charge in introducing the Rubik’s Cube to the world. In adulthood he moved to London where he worked with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children. His occupation led to a love for teaching games to children which ultimately led to his entrepreneurial ambitions in starting a games and toys company.
Tom Kremer is the reason I can mention the Rubik’s Cube and most, if not all, of you know exactly what I’m talking about. After everyone including the inventor lost interest in the product, Kremer continued to believe in it so much he bought the intellectual and production rights. Under his leadership the Rubik’s Cube has become the greatest selling toy in the history of the world. It stills sells over 10 million units per year. It is estimated that as many as one out of seven people among the world’s population have at some point tried to solve it.
Solving the Puzzle
If it required extreme resolve to get the Rubik’s Cube to the public – it demands an equal amount of commitment to figure the silly thing out. As I kid I patented my own technique which was to simply take the stickers off a jumbled cube and paste them back on in the right order.
Believe me, unlike my childish attempts, there are plenty of people around the world who are up to the challenge.
Kevin Hays, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, made headlines last month when he beat another world record. Kevin started training to compete in Rubik’s Cube competitions when he was a freshman in high school, when, as a teenager, he devoted three hours per day to practice.
Now, a normal Rubik’s Cube is 3″ by 3″ made up of 9 small squares per side. Like most serious competitors today, Kevin can solve the original Rubik Cube in less than 10 seconds. But Kevin set his eyes on breaking the record, not for the normal cube, but for one twice the size (6″ by 6″) made up of not 9 squares per side but 36 squares per side. Hayes says he has memorized 80 different algorithms that provide a variety of methods for solving the cube. In one of his early attempts to beat the standing record for the 6″ by 6″ cube, he was moving so fast, the cube literally fell apart in his hands.
But he was eventually successful. Kevin now holds the record for solving the 6″ by 6″ cube at one minute and forty seconds. And if that is not enough, last month he set the world’s record for solving seven normal size Rubik Cubes while holding his breath under water.
Whether it is Tom Kremer, now a millionaire for establishing the cube as a permanent sales leader in the toy industry — or Kevin Hays for setting the Guinness World Record — both stories illustrate the simple truth: What you are preoccupied with will eventually define you.
What Will Define You?
It is crucial that the follower of Christ be preoccupied with the right things — or better yet — be preoccupied with the right thing.
In the 18th chapter of Acts we discover the Apostle Paul’s preoccupation. He was occupied with the Word of God as Luke records:
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:5,6)
Paul was occupied with the Word, which led to opposition from the world. If you are occupied with the Word, you will likely face the same. My encouragement to you, from Scripture, regarding Scripture, is to:
Study the Word: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (1 Timothy 2:15)
Preach the Word: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (1 Timothy 4:2)
Live the Word: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)
Defend the Word: . . . I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (Philippians 1:16)
Don’t be ashamed of the Word: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation. (Romans 1:16)
Consider the words the Lord spoke to Paul in the midst of his ministry in Corinth:
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:9-11)
We must keep in mind that in eighteenth chapter of Acts is a delivery scene. In it, we witness the birth of the Corinthian Church starting with the conversion of the ruler of the synagogue:
Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
The Birth of the Church
Paul’s preoccupation with the Word led to opposition from the world but it also led to the formation of a local church. Don’t be confused. Opposition does not mean God is not at work. God may take what seems to you to be a mess and give life to a church. And if you know anything about the Corinthian Church, you will know that it often looked like a mess itself. But in the midst of the mess, God is accomplishing his purposes.
What you are pre-occupied with will eventually define you. Paul was preoccupied with the Word of God. But unlike the Rubik’s Cube, the Word of God is no toy. And we aren’t playing games here. It’s unlikely you will become rich by way of faithful proclamation, and even more unlikely that you will ever be recognized publically for setting a Guiness World Record for your dedication to the Word.
In fact, if you do this thing right you will most likely receive no shortage of public opposition.
Please hear me, if you are pre-occupied with the Word of God you will face opposition from the World. But fear not, greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. God’s Word will not return void. It will accomplish everything God intends it to accomplish.
And nothing will stand in its way: Not a Supreme Court ruling. Not an election. Not a nation. Not a prime minister. Not a monarch. Not a supreme leader. Not a chancellor. Not a false religion. Not a dictator. Not a terrorist. No man. No woman. No ideology. No philosophy. No school of thought. No trend. No general consensus. No pew poll.
Nothing. In light of eternity, nothing that is devised against it will prosper.
At the end of human history, God will not be tried and found wanting. As Paul says: May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” (Romans 3:4)
So, our response is simple: Go. Preach the Word. Teach the Word. Defend the Word. Live the Word. Love the Word and speak the Truth in love.
And when times get tough, and they will.
And when you feel like quitting, and you will.
And when it seems like no one is being changed, and that will seem to be the case at times.
When you are weary in well doing: remember the words the Lord spoke to Paul: Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you (Acts 18:9-10)
When you want to give up, heed the commision of our Savior: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)
What you are preoccupied with will eventually define you.
So, go and be defined by the Word of God, knowing that the God of the Word will be with you every step of the way.
This post is my manuscript for my charge to Boyce College graduates at the commencement service for the 2014-2015 academic year.