Archives for February 2012

Only One Thing is Necessary

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Every night it’s the same thing: I scoop the dog food into my Boston terrier’s dish, watch him devour it in approximately 2.5 seconds, and then try to ignore the licking sounds that proceed from his part of the kitchen for the next 5-10 minutes. By the time he’s all done, he’s licked his bowl so clean that even a swab test would not be able to detect that his “Iams Small Bites” ever graced the dish.

That’s how I feel about certain passages of Scripture. You know – the ones that get preached on all the time, that show up in every devotional book under the sun, that have entire books devoted to them, etc. It’s seems as though they’ve been licked so clean that there’s nothing else I can get out of them . . . that they need to be filed away in the “been there, studied that, got the sermon notes (all 20 versions)” section of my brain. They certainly don’t need to be blogged about because, well, blog posts should contain some measure of original thought. Right? Aren’t I supposed to blow you away with a series of profound insights and “Tweetable” one-liners?

Well, I’m not. Wrong blog. I’ve actually never thought of a good one-liner, so why start now? In fact, I am about to “marinate” with you in one of the most “licked clean” passages in the entire New Testament. These truths are not new. They are not profound. They are not worthy of a status update. But they are really speaking to me right now. They are pointing my heart back to a place it really needs to be. A place so precious and dear, yet all-too-often neglected for the sake of more pressing matters.

That place is the feet of Jesus.

Sitting . . .

Listening . . .

Learning . . .

Soaking . . .

Changing . . .  from the inside out as His words cut with laser-beam precision into those “do not enter” sections of my soul; turning my thoughts, attitudes, and desires on their heads and forcing me to fix my eyes on the one thing that matters – the glory of my Savior. Boy do I need that.

The scene takes place in a village called Bethany, not too far from Jerusalem. It’s probably the one and only place that felt like home to Jesus. He was loved there. And whenever He stopped by, no expense was spared to ensure that He was well fed, well rested, and well cared for in every way. Nothing was too big or too small. If Jesus wanted it, Jesus got it. Well, even if He didn’t want it, He got it!  It was a place of lavish hospitality. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were just that way.

Especially Martha. She’s the “go big or go home” type. The “why make one side dish when I can make five?” type. The one who thinks simplicity is way over-rated. The go-getter. The work horse. The perfectionist. The kind of person   that gets it done – on time, under budget, and with the creative genius of a Pinterest addict.  And she does it all with a heart of gold. She serves because she loves.

The world could not function without “Marthas”. More importantly, the church could not “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” without “Marthas.” Nowhere in Scripture is it even remotely implied that Martha should have been any less Martha-like. If I hear one more person talk about how we should all be a “Mary” in a “Martha world,” I might scream. (Nothing against that book. I’ve heard it’s really good.) It just seems lost on far too many teachers and preachers that one of the greatest confessions of Christ’s identity came from the lips of Martha! (Check it out in John 11:27.) She wasn’t some doctrinal light-weight that spent every waking moment of her life in the kitchen. She had depth, insight, a love of truth, and a commitment to lavishly serve Jesus that may very well be unmatched to this day. It just so happens that one of Martha’s worst moments is recorded in the Scriptures for all to see. (I’m glad I can keep mine a secret! Amen?!)

Here’s my point: Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit with Mary and Martha is not about personalities. It’s about priorities. The message isn’t:

 If you’re a “type A” you need to become the “chill,” contemplative type that loves rainy days, long prayer walks on the beach, endless hours of reading “Christian living” books, pondering life’s deepest questions, and sitting in trendy coffee shops.

When Jesus told Martha, “You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary,” He wasn’t telling her to be any less “Martha.” He was telling her to be a “type A” who made fellowship with her Savior a top priority. He was calling her away from her “distracted” (v. 40), “worried,” and “bothered” (v.41) place, to the one necessary place. The place where all Christ-honoring service must to begin.  The place where her sister was already seated . . . hanging on every word . . . MARINATING in the life-giving truth flowing from the lips of the Word Himself.

I believe the single most important word in Luke 10:38-42 is “chosen.” Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.” Mary and Martha lived in the same home. They were expecting the same Visitor. They had the same desire to make sure that Jesus felt at home with them. They had the same amount of hours in the day.  There was space for both of them at the feet of Jesus. As their Savior sat down and began to speak, they both had the same choice to make:

Work or worship?

Duty or delight?

Sulk or soak?

Obsess about preparations or enjoy His presence?

Martha was not reprimanded for her service. She was not asked to change her personality. She was not scolded for a lack of love for Jesus. No such thing is even implied. She was called out because of her choice to put her own selfish pursuits (in this case, making the “perfect” meal) before fellowship with her Lord. Her misplaced priorities led to a misplaced focus which led to a pretty nasty attitude. (Boy-oh-boy have I been there!)

Every morning and/or evening, we have a choice to make. Will we sit at the feet of Jesus or not? I know I teach Bible studies and blog about God’s Word, but the struggle to “choose the good part” is as fierce for me as it is for anybody else. I know what it’s like to get in my car on Sunday morning and realize my Bible has been laying on the floorboard all week. Been there. Done that. More than once. Ugh!

But that doesn’t have to be the norm. In fact, I refuse to let it be! When it comes to having a daily quiet time, I won’t be perfect. Ever. But I’m going to pour my heart and soul into being consistentone choice at a time. Mary chose the good part.” What beautiful words those are, especially when you consider who said them. What a legacy. Don’t you just long for Him to say the same of you? Priorities, girlfriend. Godliness has, is, and will always be a matter of priorities.

Well, priorities AND coffee. “Choosing the good part” cannot be accomplished without good, strong, fully-caffeinated coffee. That’s in the Bible somewhere. I promise. [wink, wink]

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