Another quote that gets at this idea in another way is from a new book I'm reading by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost called ReJesus: a wild Messiah for the Missional Church. Here they argue that we need to be a part of rejesus-ing the church. They're really talking once again about deconstructing our current understandings of [jesus] in the church by getting back to the Scriptures and allowing Jesus to reconstruct or reconfigure our understanding of him. Here's a clip from the book:
The difficulty for the church today is not in encouraging people to ask what Jesus would do, but in getting them to break out of their domesticated and sanitized ideas about Jesus in order to answer that question… There is an untamed power within him. Even his storytelling, so often characterized by the church today as warm morality tales, was dangerous, subversive and mysterious. If your answer to the question “What would Jesus do?” is that he would be conventional, safe, respectable, and refined, then we suspect you didn’t find your answer in the Gospels.
As Terry Eagleton says, “[Jesus] is presented [in the Gospels] as homeless, propertyless, peripatetic, socially marginal, disdainful of kinfolk, without a trade or occupation, a friend of outcasts and pariahs, averse to material possessions, without fear for his own safety, a thorn in the side of the Establishment and a scourge of the rich and powerful.”
The process of reJesusing the church will begin with a rediscover of the fierce and outrageous life of Jesus. Too many people have become turned off to the church because the object of our faith seems bland and insipid. It reminds me of the quip made by the archbishop who is reported to have said, “Everywhere Jesus went there was a riot. Everywhere I go they make me cups of tea.—reJesus, pp. 19-21
I've read this to a couple different people this past week and ended up in two fascinating discussions that yeilded a number of thoughts including the following:
- Jesus is always incarnational. He chooses to put on the flesh of our culture and meet us in our own language. When is it an appropriate reaction to his incarnation to see him as he reveals himself to us in our own language, culture, and conceptions and when do we go too far and begin to make him into a god of our own fashioning? In other words, is there a continuum from incarnation to idolatry and when are treading on idolatrous ground by seeing Jesus through the lenses of our own culture, language, and understanding?
- In another conversation, a friend of mine said, "It's so easy to bash the church and go after the responsibility of the church. It keeps Jesus at an arms length and makes somebody else the scapegoat. I'm sick of people blaming "the church." The real question is whether or not I am in a real, transformational relationship with Jesus, whether I am allowing him to change my understandings, and whether I will take the risk to follow this wild Messiah.
That makes me wonder about how through his incarnation, Jesus both meets us in our understandings and yet challenges them at the same time. Is it when we get comfortable with him and domesticate him that he becomes [jesus] to us and not the Jesus who reveals himself to us? When do we begin to either create for ourselves or present for others a [jesus] of our own making?
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