relationship, not perfection

March 29, 2006

The goal of a disciple of Jesus is relationship, not perfection.

In Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight uses this phrase to introduce a chapter. Though some might need to stop and think about it, I would imagine that most Jesus followers would not struggle with that statement. He explains it further on the next page:

a disciple is someone who engages Jesus as a person by trusting him, and because of that relationship, begins to live out the virtues Jesus talks about. It all begins here, in this order, and if it doesn’t begin here, it doesn’t begin at all.

While this concept might not be strikingly different from what most Christians hold, I would suggest that if this is truly embraced, it would cause us to rethink how we go about faith in a community. Combined with some other conversations I’ve had recently, this idea has my mind churning. Here’s some questions I’m tossing around as I’m thinking about this…

-How can we truly model this idea in our relationships with others? Most of us are typically hesitant to open up about our flaws to others in fear that they will think less of us. Every time we do so, we are choosing to sacrifice relationship for an image of being nearer to perfection that we actually are.

-Where is the boundary for a pastor choosing to be authentic? Pastors are supposed to be vulnerable, and yet are cautioned to show discretion in what they do share about themselves. Is this creating a culture that once again inhibits relationship at the cost of perfection?

-What does this mean for conversion? What expectations, if any, should be placed on someone who decides they want to become a follower of Jesus? If discipleship is purely a relational thing, doesn’t that mean that conversion is just agreeing to enter into a relationship and see where it goes, trusting that a relationship with Christ will be what transforms people? Is it fair to expect a couple to stop living together, or a homosexual to stop practicing, or an alcoholic to stop drinking, before they enter into a relationship with Jesus?

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