Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.” – Luke 9:1-3 (NRSV)
Give me a choice of where to order delivery, and I’ll choose the place I don’t have to call on the phone. No chance of being put on hold, of them getting my order wrong, of needing to repeat my name three times. (“Ben?”)
Better yet, the place that’ll leave the food on the doorstep and text me it’s here. No need for human interaction. Seamless. Smooth.
But in his book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman says that kind of convenience is a trap. “Smoothness,” he writes, “…is a dubious virtue, since it’s often the unsmoothed textures of life that make it livable.”
The shared laugh when they finally understand your name. Your embarrassment when they catch you singing the hold music. The satisfaction (and tiny bit of self-loathing) when they know your order before you place it. It’s what we’re made for.
Left to their own devices, Jesus knows the disciples will stay in, order room service, and come home insisting no one was much interested in good news. They’ll be tempted by convenience.
And the gospel requires inconvenience. Interaction. People being thrown together with their demons and their diseases, their hunger and dirty laundry. It thrives on laughter, embarrassment, and mutual recognition.
So he sends them out with nothing. Knowing that the less smooth their journey is, the more livable the world will become.
Lead me on the unsmoothed way.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.