Jesus in the Margins: Part 3-- Edible?
The Chinese have a proverbial question: Is it edible?
The proverb is not about food. It's about ideas, concepts, principles. If an idea is "edible" that means it is practical, it becomes part of life. It's not theory; it's concrete here and now.
Jesus was edible. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood... ." And, "This is my body given for you."
Jesus didn't change the margins with ideas. He changed the margins with concrete actions. His meal-time practices were "provocative theatre." You could see the people, smell the food, hear the laughter, dip into the same dish with Jesus. You could actually live in the kingdom of God with Jesus. The last first, the least the greatest, the child the proto-type disciple. You could breathe deeply the grace of God and see shame flee away forever.
Following Jesus was, by his culture's standards, an R-rated action movie, not a purpose-driven Bible study.
We don't read about Jesus critics saying, "This man welcomes sinners and gives them new ideas." We read, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
With a kazillion "kingdom of God" ideas and concepts percolating on the world wide web, the church won't see one person converted. Are the ideas edible?
Jesus did things. He broke bread with a violent fanatic and invited him to be a team member (a zealot); he called a tax-collector to be his follower and then ate with that tax-collector and all his traitorous friends. He allowed a known prostitute to touch him at an important and very public social gathering. He touched lepers and dead people. He spit in dust and made mud. He whipped animals out of the Temple. He ate lots of meals with marginalized people.
American Christians want an inedible version of the kingdom of God. We want nice ideas to prop up our materialistically smothered lifestyle. A nice, santitized idea of the kingdom that won't get dirt under our fingernails or snot on our clothes or blood on our hands.
We'd rather "believe" in Jesus than eat and drink him. That "meal" creates, just as it did when Jesus first offered it, a response of "this saying is too hard for us." Why?
It's concrete, not conceptual. It's strangers at our Martha Stewart tables. It's sick people sleeping between our Downy softened sheets. It's being in very hot places without air-conditioning. It's eating with people who don't know the Bible or Jesus or Doug Pagitt or Brian McLaren or Rob Bell or Marva Dawn.
Jesus was edible. More Chinese than American.