“WWJD – following the deconstructing Jesus”
You wouldn’t be far off if your first impressions of Jesus were that of someone who liked to stir up trouble and controversy and especially if you were one of those whose task it was to keep ‘these kind’ in their place. The way he speaks of family: who is my real family – not my mother and brothers and sisters – but all those who are part of the Kingdom of God. Or in his sayings: ‘You’ve heard it was said “You shall not murder”, but I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,* you will be liable to judgement…’; or ‘You’ve heard it said “love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Jesus is doing something here that, when you flip to the end of the book, get’s him killed, something that is profoundly about God’s business of disturbing us in order for us to see clearly.
He looks at the world around him and begins to tear down these edifices that have taken over. The keeping of the specific elements of the laws has become more important than the reason the laws have been given. The ‘letter’ of the law became the point rather than the ‘spirit’ of the law. And often Jesus followers have carried on this tradition. They picked this up when dismantling the notions of who is ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’; the idea that within the Church ‘slave’ and ‘master’ were equals, women and men had the same status and religious and ethnic distinctions were not recognized. The problem has been that the church has also been very quick at rebuilding structures and institutions that have put up the walls again and so the task of the church continues to be to do what Jesus did. John Caputo in his wonderful book ‘What would Jesus deconstruct’ writes ‘The deconstruction of Christianity is nothing new. It is the ageless task imposed on the church and its way to the future, the way to be faithful to its once and future task, to express the uncontainable event from which the church is forged. (p. 137)
This is what Jesus does as he teaches. He ‘opens up’ the laws and intentions of God, in order to find what is at the center, what is the kernel of the Good news Jesus came to bring – about caring for the other so much that you do not even call her an ‘idiot’ – never mind kill her. Jesus invites his followers to do the same.
“To engage the gears of deconstructive thought and practice is not to reduce our beliefs and practices to ruins…but (rather) to entrust oneself to the uncontainable event they contain, breaking down resistance… exposing them to… the kingdom that we call for, the kingdom that calls us. (pp 137-138)
The church is always discerning what it means to follow Jesus – and then the church discerns again. We are always deconstructing what has been given to us in order to find that kernel – the ‘pearl of greatest price’ or ‘the treasure hidden in the field’.And this is done best in community. It is done together with others who too are stumbling along towards the resurrection. This is what it means to be part of the church - paying attention to this impossible notion of together hearing the Spirit and then living into this understanding. For faith is only really necessary for those things that are impossible. And Jesus calls us to imagine and then live in to this ‘impossible possible’ reality of God’s intentions for humanity.
But what then is the kingdom of God? Where is it found? It is found every time an offense is forgiven, every time a stranger is made welcome, every time an enemy is embraced , every time the least among us is lifted up, every time the law is made to serve justice, every time a prophetic voice is raised against injustice, every time the law and the prophets are summed up by love.” (pp137-138)