By Paul Lancaster
Two words that almost sound the same – but have two different meanings. We are only too aware of recent images of destruction resulting from the war in Ukraine and the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, with the loss of thousands of lives and millions uprooted from their homes. There’s a sense of desperation and hopelessness when facing this scale of destruction, especially ‘natural disasters’. Yet in the midst of it all, there are amazing stories of bravery, compassion, and response.
Such events challenge us deeply and cause us to think about what really matters in our lives. In contrast to destruction, in his book Out of the Embers, Bradley Jersack writes about faith after the Great Deconstruction. Just to clarify – he explains deconstruction to be a move from previous status quo faith forms, sometimes including restrictive church constructs, into a new and deeper understanding of God and a more radical expression of God’s love in the community and wider world. It can lead to hopelessness and despair or to deeper meaning and purpose. Many who identify with this would say that this was not something they went seeking after, but found that it was just happening to them. Deconstruction is happening on a broad scale in the church, especially in the West, but not only in the church. Our entire culture is passing through a major time of upheaval and deconstruction; polarised politics, unpredictable economies, results of the pandemic and climate changes. “We’re in era that is undoing old constructs at breakneck speed.” 1
What are we to make of it all and the future for younger generations? Despite earthquakes, God is not a God of destruction but a bringer of life, even though there are no easy answers to this. During this season of Lent perhaps we can allow God’s deconstruction process to delve deeper into our lives, removing obstacles that get in the way of radically following Jesus. Jesus was not afraid to challenge the religious status quo and his disciples, as he pursued His Father’s will. He may be described as the greatest destructionist! Philippians 2 v6-11 sums this up stating ‘he made himself nothing,’ ‘…he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross’. The cross may have looked like destruction for Jesus, as far as his enemies were concerned, but this ultimate deconstruction led to resurrection life made available for all.
Let’s not be afraid of deconstruction in our lives, especially when we feel burnt out or cannot see a way forward, “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12v24). May we discover at this current time, a new desire to seek God’s presence and find renewed strength and purpose in communicating God’s life to others.
Reference: Jersack,B (2022) Out of the Embers- Faith after the Great Deconstruction. Whitaker House