I have a disease.
This disease is characterized by brief interactions with others, short conversations and an underlying focus on time and efficiency. The effects of this disease include shallow relationships, meager personal engagement and a yearning for something more.
I suffer from transactional living.
At the heart of my condition is a subconscious (or at times conscious) belief that the goal of life is a goal. That the greatest accomplishment in life is accomplishment. And that since our lives are so often composed of transactions, then that is what life is really all about.
But Jesus’ life points to something far more important.
Certainly, Jesus’ life was filled with transactions. (And by transactions, I am referring to the exchange of goods and/or services for the benefit of one or both parties.) Every time he healed or ministered to someone, there was a transaction of sorts. But to say that Jesus’ life was merely transactional is to grossly underestimate (and misunderstand) the purpose of his coming. At the core of his ministry, Jesus came to tell us that there is more to life than transactions.
The Gospel of Mark provides an excellent example of this:
Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
— Mark 7:31–37
If my life is to be more than transactional, then my faith must be as well. Just like the deaf man in the passage above, I must come to Jesus with those areas of my life that transactions cannot fix — in my case, fear, doubt and insecurity — and desperately and audaciously throw myself at his feet and ask him to heal me. When he heals me, I must then be ready to share this “transaction” with others. If the transformation that Jesus is bringing about in my life is at the heart of who I am, then it should also find its way into my relationships and my vocabulary. After all, there may be someone else out there searching for something beyond transactions who could benefit from my experience. Why not share what Christ has done for me to open this door for them as well?
And that transaction could lead to something, and someone, far greater.