I hope to post now and then on the importance of relationships for any and all Christian ministry, and also offer some potted theological thoughts. The more I’ve thought about this after meeting Michael Schluter who was speaking about ‘Relationalism’, the more convinced I’ve become on the need to keep relational thinking upfront in how we engage in church and in Christian training.
Relationships form the bedrock of a life lived well. If they disintegrate, chaos often ensues. But more than this, from a Christian perspective the whole of faith can be interpreted as being relationally focused. The greatest commandment exhorts believers to love God to the uttermost. The next greatest exhorts them to neighbour love. God is in himself a relational being, a triune community of Father, Son and Spirit.
Here is a quote I came across from the Miroslav Volf talking about a book by Nichalos Wolsterstorff called Justice, Rights and Wrongs. Volf is not only a great writer, but, from the [admittedly only one] time I met him, a theologian who really seems to enjoy people – and the two do not always seem to go together!
A flourishing life is neither merely an “experientially satisfying life,” as many contemporary Westerners think, nor is it simply a life “well-lived,” as a majority of ancient Western philosophers have claimed. Instead, argues Wolterstorff, explicating the moral vision of the Christian Scriptures, human flourishing consists in “the life that is both lived well and goes well …a well-lived life is one that a person leads well … the life that goes well is one in which a person enjoys good things and right kinds of relationships.
In other words, in contrast to our culture’s exaltation of individualism or of created consumer ‘things’, real life is found in the sort of life we lead. And a quality life is found in quality relationships – with God and with others.
If this is true, what are some implications?