Tuesday, August 24, 2010

#187-Relationship (A Funeral for an old friend)

Firstly, sorry about the delay of not posting. I try to post with some sort of regularity and it pains my heart when I don't do so. Forgive me dear citizens.

But continuing with using high school social order as a good analogy to understand the topics I write about, I give you a story:

A few years ago, a new kid moved into the school full of apostolic Pentecostals. Allegedly he came from California and his best friends were "Emergent" and "Grace" but no one was exactly sure where he came from. He was handsome, a great athlete, and had a better way with the ladies than most. This usually would make the other high school students red with jealousy as the foreigner stole away all possibility of keeping the ladies to sticking to their "home-grown roots." But yet the new kid had such a way about him that all the other guys fell head over heels him in terms of them pursuing a strictly platonic bro-mance relationship with him. The new kid never seemed to get annoyed by all of the attention and perhaps most admirably never seemed to let the popularity get to his head. He maintained friendships with the weirdest of the freaks at school but also made sure to hang out with the barbie dolls and the jocks as well. 

The new kid's name was "relationship." And he became the buzzword for our entire movement as a description of a kind of rebellion against formal and organized religion that most ApoPento youth had begun to classify their denomination as.

In fact, it was Relationship's enrollment into our school that forced the old high school starting Quarterback into a depression because he wasn't as good of an athlete or as funny or as accepting as Relationship. This former quarterback's name was Religion. When I think about Religion and Relationship I think of this friendship...

When Relationship moved in and tried taking the throne of being the most popular kid in school, Religion got extra mean with everyone and even one time yelled at his long term girlfriend in the hallway between classes:

"Your going to hang out with Relationship this weekend? After everything I have done for you, you return your gratitude by hanging out with Relationship. That's right, I know you text him secretly and that you like him more than me. Go ahead! Run away with him. But know that when you do run away with him, I will be laughing when I hear that you were passed out at a party drugged from a date-rape drug Relationship slipped into your drink. It won't be long until your sayin it don't matter if you was baptized in Jesus' Name or in the trinity's name."

But it wasn't long until Religion stopped going to youth class at church. And then one by one the murmurs became louder and without regret. Each student was caught saying the same words over and over again as if it was their own revelation: "To me, it's not about Religion. It's about Relationship."

And every student who was sitting near that student when they made that declaration nodded their head in agreement.

One day at school I was curious to see where Relationship lived so stalkerishly I followed him home. When He got home this is essentially what I saw when I looked into his bedroom window except instead of Kelly Ripa it was Relationship:

And the worst part was that Relationship saw me see him take off his face and swore me to secrecy not to say a word about his real identity.

Of course I agreed and we became best friends for a couple years.....

But I think the time has come to bury our expired and overly-mentioned friend.

You see, Relationship at first glimpse seems like a very good thing in theory. But I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago and he mentioned how that word is just another buzzword for "I can live however I want since Christ to me is about relationship and not rules" (paraphrased). It takes obedience and responsibility and throws them in the bad "religion" tent and thus doesn't have to think about them one bit. So naturally, relationship is a subjective term which allows for personal interpretation of Christianity for each and every Christian young person. Which I theoretically agree with.

What I can't stand is that when someone says Christianity is about "relationship" they aren't talking about holding hands with God walking on the beach or God calling you late at night while you are hanging out with your friends and Him saying "Say you love me" and you say "But God all my friends are around and it's embarrassing if they hear me." And then God shouts "I knew it!" and then when he says that, you whisper in the phone "I love you" but all your friends still heard you and break out in laughter.

But I think in most cases, relationship doesn't mean that at all. It actually is said with a bit of self-righteousness to it that implies that anyone who is not "for relationship" is actually "for religion" like the older generation. But my question is, what Apostolic Pentecostal do we know that are against having  a relationship with God? Because everyone wants to have a relationship with God that gets them closer to knowing Him! Some may not act it out, some may classify the way to have relationship by following several formulas and rules, and others may go about that relationship only in the pews 3 days a week, but whatever the case is, everyone is still "for relationship." That even means those people who you say make Christianity a Religion, those people are for relationship. And are you not, by saying Christianity is about relationship, in a way making your own religion of the "relationship?"

Thus the bottom line is this: Any time someone says they are not for religion, they are for relationship, all it really means is "I want to worship a God that I want to make out in my own image and limited understanding of God and if it's not good enough I trust God will tell me. Not you!"

So thus I propose that we bury the term here and now because it essentially means nothing any more. And it can be downright hazardous to our health.

I'm sure a new kid will show up in our school soon enough anyways that is just as good looking and loving.


  1. Rules - Relationship = Legalism

    Relationship - Rules = Anarchy

    Both are essential.

    PS- New commenter. UPCI minister. Love your blog.

  2. lol. this was really funny.

    "I knew it!"

  3. You guys have an uncanny way to take what's popular (Which becomes the norm for a seaon or so) and pervert it hahahahaha. Just wild.

    I am totally fine with the term because without a relationship you have just another common religion. And yes UPCI is a religion/Denomination no matter how you try to swing it. As a UPCI Preacher I have had enough dealings with the political aspect just this year alone to shake my head and laugh.

    With all of that said You and I can have a relationship with Jesus Christ (GOD) where we know him and he knows us, We talk with him and he talks with us. We have that! Therefore a relationship is something that is real and a must. The last thing that you want to hear is "Depart from me I dont know you". You guys are right that people use that as a cop out to not submit their lives to doctrine, the word of God and Pastoral standards that are their for a safeguard (or a dictatorship depending on your pastor hehe).

    Either way fun post and great job!

    And another cheap plug for my blog:


  4. The postmodern in me is screaming "why can't we have both?" I think you're right - setting it up as a dichotomy is a bad idea - if we look at it as more of a a dialectic I think it'd be healthier. So rather than either/or, it's both/and.

    The Kelly Ripa video was awesome. Just sayin.

  5. *This of course assuming 'relationship' and 'religion' are both used with best intentions and good meaning rather than an excuse to do/be nothing.

  6. I don't really get this post, but the picture of the guy asking Jesus to "Please protect me from your followers" is hilarious.

  7. Wow. Really good analogy Joel. 2 thumbs up.

  8. Good post. I feel like if you say its about relationship and you live the way you want, then you know nothing of relationship. Relationship produces fruits.

  9. Doesn't relationship lead to rules? Take marriage for an example. You are attracted to someone, you get to know that person. You commit yourself exclusively to that person in marriage. You learn what makes them tick and what ticks them off (the do's and dont's).

  10. Great post. So true.

    BTW, there are real Apostolics in California!, even Los Angeles.