There is a tremendous challenge for those of us (which is all of us) who live in an increasingly virtual world formed by nothing but ideas and words, and it is that we constantly torn between our propositional world and our inherently relational being.
We were not made to live in the clouds, or the cloud. We were not designed to spend our time dwelling in the place of ideas and words and figments of our own imaginations. We were given a flesh to inhabit and communities in which to dwell and places in which to be and five glorious senses to uncover the physical, tangible, taste-able wonder of the world because we are, at our very core, beings who were designed to be in relationship with each other, with our world, and with our God.
You can't be relational with an idea. There's no relationship between a man and mere words.
It's why, as time passes, we see the souls of men becoming more and more parched. It's why the loneliness of the isolation of a virtual world is so devastating. It's why no matter how we build our profiles or who we become online, we're still aching to be something more, something that all the social media in the world can't capture.
It's why, I think, we're all posting so many pictures of our food. It's not that food has become the new sexy. It's not that we're all such fabulous cooks that we need to brag about it a little. It's not that there's anything particularly special about what we're eating tonight. It's simply this: it's a desperate plea, an agonizing cry. It is our shouting the world that we have a table, a real table....
...won't you join me?
Because that's what we really want, no matter what we say. We want someone, many someones, to come and to be around our table with us. We want to share physical space with another physical person. We want, for just a moment, something real, something that the best connectivity always comes up short on.
And yes, we're experimenting with greater and greater connecting technologies, like the abilities to video chat and actually see one another in real time and some more enhanced artificial presence ideas, but this is still painfully short of what we really long for, and that is another human hand to hold, human eyes to look into, a human heart beating in the same room as ours.
We can't help it; this is what we were created for.
Yesterday, I said that it is our virtual existence, which lives only in the space of ideas and words, that has caused anxiety, depression, violent crime, and suicide to rise and that part of that rests squarely on the idea that we're lost in a world in which we no longer feel real, where nothing feels real. This is exactly it. This is why.
We are beings who were created to be interconnected with one another. We are beings created for intimacy and relationship. We are beings who become more fully who we are when we are with someone else, a reflection of the relationship of God in Trinity. Something in our lives is fundamentally missing when we don't have each other, really have each other, when there's no one else around our tables.
Our virtual world is bringing that tension to the forefront in our lives and here's the truth: we were not meant to be okay with not having it. Technology is great, but it's not what we were made for. We were made for each other, to the glory of God.
A propositional world just won't cut it. Not when you're living in your own wounded flesh. We will always and forever be searching for something with a little more skin on it.
Only in relationship do we find it. For we are, always have been, and always will be relational beings, and we can never talk ourselves out of that.