I have often felt that the questions I have about faith seem threatening to other Christians. It is like their beliefs are a carefully constructed wall and by raising the inconsistencies between church and biblical models of discipleship and community, for example, or pushing the boundaries with my mission activities, I start to pull at a brick in their wall. All of a sudden their faith doesn’t feel nearly so secure anymore and they reject what I do and say for fear that once one brick is removed or reshaped the whole edifice might come crashing down.
For those of us who are pioneers, however, the evidence would suggest, that in order for us to imagine something new, we have to go through a period of deconstruction. A hard time when we have to re-examine our walls, and take down the bricks that are the certainties of our faith in order to create the space to build in new shapes and contexts. This week I was reminded of an incident that beautifully illustrates this point. My brother, when he was about 8, built the most amazing spaceship using every piece of Lego he possessed. My Dad had just put up a shelf in the dining room, so he put the wonderful construction in pride of place on the new shelf so that everyone who visited could admire what my brother had created. However, within minutes disaster struck! The shelf fell down and the beautiful Lego creation was smashed beyond repair. My poor brother was inconsolable. But this tragedy meant that his building blocks ceased to be an ornament and could once again be used for the purpose they were made – to be built into increasingly diverse and innovative constructions.
I think this analogy could also be applied to studying theology. Here to we look again at the bricks that make up our faith and allow our questions and the surprising answers from alternative experiences of Christ in different cultures responding to different pressures reshape what we believe and how we see the world. Isn’t this what Jesus was trying to do for the Jews of 1st Century Palestine? John chapter 2, verse 18 says, “The Jews challenged Jesus: ‘What sign’, they asked, ‘can you show as authority for your action?’ ‘Destroy this temple’, Jesus replied, ‘and in 3 days I will rebuild it again.’ They said, ‘It has taken 46 years to build this temple. Are you going to raise it after 3 days?’ But the temple he was speaking of was his body.” Like us, the people of God had allowed their ideas to become solidified, contained and embodied in bricks and mortar. Yet God is revealed in the person of Christ and our relationship with Him is handcrafted by our unique experiences of Him and His body, the church.
So, let’s think of what we believe not as ‘set in stone’ but as Lego bricks, robust and colourful made to be taken apart and rebuilt in new and interesting shapes. These constructions don’t contain our experience of faith, enshrine it in a mausoleum, but reflect the creativity, diversity and flexibility of God Himself and the people and places He has made to love and enjoy.