Is God Efficient?
I've always been an optimist (in the literal sense), and that was only further ingrained by my college training. For two years I was immersed in a classroom environment emphasizing optimal efficiency in task, product, and vision. I have not pursued a career in that field, but relying on Godís providence, Iím confident that those experiences are integral in my calling (Rom 5:8). So I began wondering if I could assess God in that way.
Is God efficient? Is God concerned with getting the most Bang for His Buck? Can we even evaluate His best, from our viewpoint? If I can discover a Ďbestí way to do things, God should be able to do so even better.
I find it useful to state my assumptions before I get started, and then see where they lead. Starting with the reality that Iím not very good at anything, and that God is defining perfection in all things, Iíll define these assumptions, specifically:
1. God is efficient whether I see it or not, and when I donít agree, the problem is with me.
2. When we see the problem or issue as He sees it, then it will be clear how efficiently He addresses it. Or inversely, when we do not
understand the problem, (as is most often the case), His actions seem inefficient.
Letís investigate the story of Mary at the tomb (John 20:11-18): She is grief stricken at having seen her Master Jesus brutally executed, having seen all of the disciples scattered, and having come to seek some closure that He was really dead, she finds a man whom she assumes to be the gardener and pleads with him.
What is the problem here. If we can see what is really the issue, I believe that we will plainly see Godís efficiency. The only character specifically in the story is Mary, and what was wrong with her? What is she lacking?
Primarily, she does not know Scripture, and thusly does not know what the Christ is, what He is doing, and why He must die. She didnít believe Jesusí own teaching and miracles. She is full of fear, frustration, and disbelief. So even with Jesus standing directly before her, she doesnít see Him. How could it be Him, Heís dead! It is pretty clear to me, that this is what is wrong, the real issue. She thinks that He is Ďreallyí dead. Mission failed.
That said, Jesus should start through the scriptures pointing out her misunderstandings and correcting them. He could have pointed to her lack of faith, He could have berated her. After sitting at his feet she still did not understand. Was she paying attention? That seems efficient; get to the root of the problem. That is likely what you and I would have done. But He didnít do any of that. What did He do?
ďMary.Ē And her eyes were opened.
Did He correct her misunderstandings? Nope. Since He is efficient, (Assumption 1), it must be our inadequate assessment of the real issue that seems to point to His inefficiency. So letís try againÖ
We can see this event with Godly emphasis, we can see it though His eyes, by looking at what Jesus did, and how. Her problem was less why she didnít recognize Him, but simply that she didnít see Him. For there is no Hope, Faith, or Love without Godís Son. We are incapable of fixing anything without Him. The real problem was that she had lost sight of Christ.
With that as the real issue, then the most efficient solution is correcting that broken link, ASAP. Can you think of a quicker way to get Maryís attention than for Him to personally call her name, in the voice He had done so lovingly before. He didnít waste time, as we likely would have, by pointing out how far off base she was. He immediately corrected the relationship by reestablishing the connection, the communion.
Her problem was that she had lost sight of her Lord, not that she had suffered through a brutal weekend. Ours is the same; what matters is that we have lost sight of our Savior, not that we have health problems or are struggling financially, etc.
If we think that the real problems in this world are anything other than losing focus on Him, we will not only find God inefficient, but absent. Because, quite frankly, if our problems were really financial, the most efficient way would be to supply the winning lottery tickets. Instant money. Since that isnít happening, God canít be efficient.
When we recognize what the real problem is, simply that we have lost sight of our Master, we may even find that these worldly trials are part of the efficient solution. The Bible is full of examples of how God takes people along a path to Himself. If we redefine efficiency by Godís standard, we will also redefine our standard of success.
For each one of us, we have areas of maturity and immaturity in our Christian lives. What does God correct? Where does He start? Since He is efficient, He will address that area in our lives which hinders our relationship with Him the most, while seemingly leaving some other areas alone. The problem comes when we donít agree with where He should begin renovation. It is arrogance which makes us think that we know better than Him what needs fixed, or what is blinding us from clearly seeing Him. Likewise, why do we think that what we see needing correction in someone elseís life is really what is holding them down? God may ask us to endure issues in our own as well as othersí lives when it is secondary to His efficient plan.
I am constantly thanking God that He doesnít ask me what He should do, nor does He wait to dispense blessing until I understand it. It has been transforming to start first with a belief that He knows best and seeking the evidence to support it, instead of starting with a downward focus, and then asking ďWhy?Ē. So thatís my challenge; look at your life, and by seeing where God has acted and what He has done, we can get a glimpse into His priorities. It is only when we accept His view on things that we become aware of His efficiency toward us, His very good creation.
II Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.