Since I’ve already used these terms in our discussion about following Christ and following religion, I thought it might be a good idea to explain a bit about what I mean in using them. The terms both deal with the nature of a relationship: Is the relationship transactional or relational?
To be quite honest, most human relationships tend to be transactional. Yes, I realize that statement might surprise many, that is, until we think about it. When you are on the job, you might have a great relationship with the boss, maybe you really hit it off together. Yet, if you argue with his or her decisions, don’t complete your work on time, show up late, are absent frequently and make consistent and frequent errors in your work, how long is that relationship going to last? Those things are all transactions in the relationship. Transactions within a relationship are all about following a set of rules or expectations: Follow the rules and everything is fine, break the rules and we have a problem.
Come to think of it, we can probably say that every human relationship is transactional to some degree.
A relationship that is relational is more about the human beings involved and how they feel about one another in spite of most transactional matters− people forgive one another’s faults and shortcomings… to a point.
Hold on− isn’t love supposed to be unconditional?
That’s not as easy a question as some might suppose. If you made an indecent proposition to your best friend’s spouse, how well do you think that would go over? They didn’t care that you tipped over your wine glass at their dinner table and ruined the new tablecloth, they’re OK with your tendency to misspeak or be crude, but there’s always a line you can’t cross with people and remain on their Christmas card list.
With all of that said, what this really comes down to in our discussion is this: Does God want a relational or transactional relationship with His people?
Please forgive me for painting with such a broad brush here, but the person who is religious will answer that question with a resounding RELATIONAL just before reaching for the rule book. Who knows, maybe you’ve met someone like that.
At any rate, I hope everyone is clearer about my use of the terms as we continue in our journey. Our next stop is to examine the nature of Christian worship, and what better place is there to begin that part of the journey than the Day of Pentecost? That’s where we’ll pick up next time, see you then.