Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Search of the Perfect Relationship

One of the major emphases of our culture is the central importance of relationships. This is often held up as what life is about. But as C. S. Lewis points out, when a good thing is blown out of proportion, it can become destructive and even undermine the thing itself. Relationships, family, friends, Christian brothers and sisters are a good thing. They are meant to be enjoyed and to be for our benefit. But they are best when kept in realistic proportion. We are sinners (Romans 3:23; Isaiah  64:6; Jeremiah 17:9) in a fallen world (Romans 8:18-23; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; John 16:33). Nor are we, as those who trust in Christ, immune to this; we still fall short of being the people we should be (Philippians 3:12-16; Romans 7:7-25; Galatians 5:17). Therefore, if we go out looking for the perfect spouse, perfect family, perfect circle of friends, perfect church, we will always be disappointed. Further, by trying to change them into our ideal, we can destroy the imperfect, but real and beneficial, relationship that is there. Also, by feeling we need to be the perfect person who is capable of having the perfect relationship, we can put ourselves on an endless treadmill of trying to meet these expectations. And when we fail to obtain the kind of relationships we desire, we can become discouraged and bitter. All this can prevent us from keeping or enjoying the genuine relationships we do have or could have. Even our relationship with God, when seen in the wrong way, can take on this quality. If we see this relationship, as fundamentally an experience we have or a feeling we possess, we can labor to drum up that experience and become discouraged or even blame God if we fail to obtain it.

Scripture, rather than advocating the pursuit of the ideal relationship, sees relationships as objective facts and works from there (Matthew 19:1-12; Exodus 20:12; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Therefore, it demands behavior and commitment that fit the existing relationship (Ephesians 5:22-6:4; 4:1-6; Proverbs 17:17). Also, our relationship with God is based on the fact that He has redeemed us (John 1:12,13; Revelation 1:5,6; Ephesians 2:8,9) and calls us to live in the light of that relationship (Romans 12:1,2; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15). This takes the pressure off, without eliminating the responsibility involved. We are not to seek the perfect relationship, but to do the best we can with the relationships we have in an imperfect world. For it is only by approaching them realistically that we can avoid destroying them by striving too hard to preserve and perfect them.


  1. I know what you say is true. I put too much hope in community and relationship, and it ended in a disaster.

  2. You have my sympathy. I have been through and observed the type of situation in the past and it is difficult. May God give you the strength to work through the pain.