Friday, March 18, 2011

If I ruled the world...

This is not how I would set things up.

Yesterday,after spending a bruising and sunburnt day in Gulu, I sat down to an Indian meal with some new friends. Thankfully the Indian didn't inflict damage on the six hour bus ride this morning (chorus of "hallelujah"). The new friends are highly qualified westerners doing some cool stuff in the wrecked yet recovering norther Uganda. One of the lessons we are all learning is the highly unwestern principle of relationship. It's not that westerners dislike relationship, or avoid it, its that we compartmentalize it. We have our work and our relationships, we are trained not to mix friends and money, we think a good plan has value in and of itself, and in a certain context there is wisdom here. Not so much in the African context.

Africa, where good ideas and well thought out plans are engulfed in flames and drag people to the pits of depression, self doubt, and self-righteous anger, teaches a brutally difficult lesson to learn: If it isn't built on relationship, it isn't going to last. Plans aren't all bad, good intentions and brilliant ideas are a good place to start, they get you moving in a direction. The problem is, once they are expected to stand on their own they are dead. The way things last, they way they grow, is when they come out of relationship.

Seeing problems and solutions isn't enough, you need to see the solutions that work within the context. The problem is I've only seen this come from relationships, relationships that take a while to develop, relationships that are difficult, relationships that develop independently of "the plan", relationships that are sometimes annoying. As much as this sucks, it is also a blessing, it forces you to see people.

While preaching last week I blurted out "Christianity isn't about magic, it's about relationship." I wanted people to understand the difference between being a christian to "get" and being a christian to "be". God created us to be in relationship with him, not to get passing prizes or have our lives work slightly better. This is easy to remember when I preach, but freaking difficult when I live. Being in relationship with God, for the the sake of being, requires being in relationship with others for the same reason. If a plan or a solution for a situation comes out of it, well then great, the best ones do. Unfortunately, that isn't the reason for them.

The sucky thing about relationships, at least the ones of value, is they need to happen for themselves.


  1. Yeah... and they take way longer than we're often willing to invest from a western context. Good post. I like.

  2. This is true in so many ways--it is the "Who you know syndrome" over here.

    Nice post.