Relationship First and Last

‘When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.’ Acts 4:1
I graduated from the church Sunday School system at the age of thirteen, firmly convinced that Christianity was a knowledge-based religion. I didn’t like it, so I dumped it. At the age of thirty I met Jesus; I entered into a relationship with him and I am still in that relationship. Not only that, but I am now in relationship with his church; I have brothers, sisters, and friends. As much as I am against religion I am for relationship. In fact, my conviction is that life, both temporal and eternal is all about relationship.

To embrace religion is to let go of Jesus, because Jesus shunned religion. Equally, to believe that Christianity is a private affair is to miss the whole point of it. Heaven is not a solitary confinement cell; it is a space of endless ‘family’. To know Jesus is to enter into his family, and to be part of his family is to be part of the church, both here and in heaven.
Religions have communities of fellow adherents, but they are lifeless groups gathered around doctrine, or tradition, or a leader. Relationship is the glue of living Christian community. Relationship is also the purpose of that community; I am in the church community not to serve a cause, or to promote a philosophy, or to make converts, but to be in relationship with Jesus and his disciples.
Religions are mainly knowledge or skills based. Ones standing and role within a religious system is dependent on what one knows or what can do. Our standing within Christianity is dependent only on who we know, not on what we know. It is also based on what God can do, not on what we can do. In the very first years of the church, the disciples were different from others not because of their knowledge or skills, but because they had been with Jesus. It is still the same today.

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Christopher Peppler



1 thought on “Relationship First and Last”

  1. Hi Chris – Having just read your thoughts on relationship, I felt that this is a wonderful basis for a great message for our people on ecclesia.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.