Monday, January 26, 2009

The Greater the Relationship

"The greater the relationship, the fewer the rules."  I read that phrase many years ago and it has stuck with me since. The truth of it reverberates deep inside me.  I see it play itself out over and over.  In situations of loving trust, few rules are needed.  But when trust begins to break, when one party no longer believes the best of the other, when intentions are questioned, the rules start to mushroom.

The financial markets are facing the disastrous revelation that Bernie Maydoff lost his investment clients over 50 billion dollars in a giant ponzi scheme that finally collapsed.  The big issue is that so many trusted this man who turned out to be a creep and a thief. This, as much or even more than the loss of money, exacerbated the anguish.  The result will be lowered trust, more requirements, rapidly multiplying outside regulators with heightened invasive powers, padded bureaucracy, bigger policy manuals, lessoned joy, and no delight in unexpected friendship for there will be no space for it to form. 

Same thing happened after 9/11.  While airplane flights had long ceased being comfortable and privileged ways to travel, suddenly it became necessary to nearly disrobe in order to get through security.  The latest technology in scanning equipment effectively strips the body of all clothing, giving the screening personnel x-ray vision, kind of like Superman, as the people walking through the equipment are seen unclothed.  Sadly, there have been few protests.  The horrifying intents of a few have meant all of us pay the price of having to obey increasingly burdensome and intrusive rules along with lessoned freedom.

In the church, because of the despicable actions of a tiny percentage of clergy, nearly all of us who are seeking to enter the ministry endure years of investigations, interviews, reports, background and credit checks and examinations.  The hurdles to ordination have become so burdensome that we have lost the talents of some of the best and brightest of our young people who have sensed a call to ministry.  It's a huge loss to the church.

What happens in that public stage repeats itself in less public but equally as important private interactions.  Trust is lost in one relationship, so this lack of trust is then projected upon the next possible relationship accompanied by an often hidden list of "do's and don'ts" that turn into mine fields of explosive possibilities.  

What is most sad about this?  The increased rules just don't solve the problem.  Schemers will still con people out of their money; terrorists will figure out new and more creative ways to wreak mayhem; slimeballs who masquerade as holy people will still prey on the weak and vulnerable.  We've solved nothing by layering regulation upon regulation on us. Government can't save us.  The State makes a poor and ineffective Redeemer.  Policy manuals do not open the door to the kingdom of heaven.  

There's only one solution and that is the internal transformation that comes from relationship with a loving and holy God.  When that internal transformation is matched by an intentional choice to treat others with honor and graceful forbearance, then, and only then will goodness be able to penetrate and bring light to darkness.  


Anonymous said...

Amen Christy.
Trust is the foundation of relationships. When it is destroyed, then the relationship is what suffers.
Rules and laws are for those who do not have this kind of trust.
You speak of the ministry and all that you must go through to become a minister. It is always the few who dictate to the many what must be done. When we allow the few to get away with the wrongs, then we allow them to dictate to the rest of us what rules we must follow so that more of them do not come into existance.
Catch 22, we cannot win. They will still break the rules and we will catch them only to make more rules so more of them will not come. But the more rules we have the more will be broken and so on and so on.
Bottom line. We must start somewhere and it has to start with ourselves. If we put it off to another then we have just said we don't trust and all is lost.
Then when we trust, if it is violated then what do we do? Seriously there should be consequences to every violation. But what kind? Not for us to determine but should be a natural one. One that would happen not because we made the rule but because of what was done.

Trust leads to love and love leads to an everlasting peace with God and with each other and the world.

The hymn says it best. Only trust Him Only trust Him. Only trust Him now. He will save you He will save you He will save you now.

God saves if only we will trust Him.

Trust means loving in such a way that mistakes can be made and corrected in such a way that love and trust is not only maintained but strengthened.

Yes do over's are a form of trust that leads to love and more trust.

Amen to Three French Hens!!!

Christy Thomas said...

Thank you for this thoughtful comment. The big question: What DO we do when trust is violated? How do we respond in such a way that real transformation takes place on both sides? In my opinion, much trust is violated by people who are acting like bullies (i.e., imposing their will on unwilling others), but are totally blind to it--and who generally think they are acting with the public good in mind. It takes courage to push back the bullies, especially the subtle ones who are able to coat their actions with noble words and good intentions.