Christina Cook, in a recent article in Christianity Today, writes on the topic of “holy inefficiency” in enjoying the gift of meaningful relationships. She had just moved across the country and experienced a lifetime of relationships shift onto the internet. Staying in touch looked like scrolling through other people’s posts. The problem was that it was too easy to forget the real, flesh-and-blood people who were not online. She noticed that the efficiency of the technology close at hand was making decisions for her about the people with whom she interacted. As Google’s Tristan Harris has famously said in a Wired interview earlier this year, “When you use technology, you have goals. When you land on YouTube, it doesn’t know any of those goals. It has one goal, which is to make you forget those goals that you have” (CT, July/August 2018, page 44). When Christina missed a visit from a flesh-and-blood friend because she had not seen that friend’s post on a social media site she had come to rely on for information, she resolved to start connecting as directly as possible with the people in her life. She decided it was time to add a little “holy inefficiency” into her life!
Interacting with flesh-and-blood people is a messy and at times disappointing business! It can at times even break your heart. The beautiful and intimate relationship of the first human couple at the outset of their marriage became fraught from the time of the original Fall into sin. The joy of the first couple and the integrity of their intimacy with one another has never been a foregone conclusion since. Have you ever seen (and nodded in agreement) with the bumper stickers that read “Dogs are better than humans”? Then you know what I mean. Jesus, God’s Son, entered our world as a flesh-and-blood human being that he might restore our relationships to God and one another. Jesus is God’s gift to you and me so that we might not only nod in agreement but say “Amen!” to the proposition that there is something out there better for solitary human beings than dedicated animals, as wonderful as they might be! Jesus and the bonds of love He builds (bonds that we cannot produce by ourselves) are what we receive when we gather around the Lord’s table again this Sunday. In Jesus, God’s original intention (and goal for each and every one of us) has been fulfilled. What a privilege to enjoy the holy inefficiency of flesh-and-blood relationships with one another and build that kind of beautiful community together, by God’s grace.
Today, the first Sunday of October, is a day traditionally remembered and celebrated at Trinity Lutheran Church as “LWML (Lutheran Women in Mission) Sunday.” Trinity’s LWML includes all women at Trinity and whatever they do at church, at home, or on the job on behalf of the mission of God to bring all people of the world into meaningful relationship with God and one another, through Jesus. Let’s take today to receive the love of the God-made-man Jesus and, by God’s grace, to live out the “holy inefficiency” of the real, flesh-and-blood relationships God gives us, too.