Outcomes vs. Relationships

Why do we Christians love the world? To bring the world to Jesus to be saved. Why does God love the world? Because God enjoys loving the world.

I wonder if you hear a difference in those two statements?

Recently I was introduced to this idea that many relationships, and perhaps many Christians are paying attention to outcomes, not relationships. I always loved to think that God doesn't really have an agenda (other than love) but I never understood why that mattered to me. It's because people know when they are a means to an end and not an end in-and-of-themselves.

This is why in an all-white church you can't just have a band member of color and say that you are diverse. This is why Christians who hand out tracts instead of engaging passers-by in friendly conversation do more harm than good for the cause. This is why parents will kick their adult children out of the house when they aren't "living by the rules." This is why I will always be skeptical of ministries that are too big or too smarmy. This is why my gut reaction to that mission trip selfie with the local is that you just needed a prop.

It just reeks of using another person.

The church will not survive if we look at a person and see their value in an outcome. Our witness evaporates when we say that God took your loved one so someone else could come to faith. We trip our own legs out from under us when we explain to others that we can't give them money because being poor is preferable. It's literally the blind leading the blind because we all have planks blocking our view and I won't read the very book I'm trying to sell you.

We will thrive and look a lot more like Jesus if we form relationships first for the sake of having relationships with people God has a relationship with. We have to care about the other person before we could possibly speak into their world. We just don't have any authority otherwise. If we don't get this right we fail as parents. We fail as coworkers. We fail as the church. We fail as children of a God that does not put outcomes ahead of relationships. Remember that whole death on a cross thing?

I have a long way to go. Lord knows I'm really good at making people into a means to get to a goal. I don't think God does that. Today, how do you think you can move from being grounded in outcomes to being grounded in relationships?