Everyday for the past 5 months I've been reading and focusing on one of my favorite short stories in the Bible often referred to as, "The story of Martha and Mary" in Luke 10:38-42. At only 5 verses it may be pound for pound the most richly concentrated small passage in the Bible that accurately describes the meaning of life, mankind's premier priority, humanities' simplified purpose, and our tendency to chase after inferior counterfeits.
Its simplicity leads to a bewildering liberation. How can it be that simple?!?! Can the essence of life really be comprised into one simple thing?!?! Is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His words really all that is necessary?!?! Certainly serving Him and serving the needs of others is my chief calling, right?!?! In this one short passage Jesus declares that doing things for Him isn't as important as spending time with Him. Not even close! Not even comparable. Martha, in all her well intended toil to serve Jesus, was so DISTANT from Him that she became distracted, anxious, troubled, accusatory, blameful, controlling, and overwhelmed with too much and too many things on her "service plate". Her service for Jesus actually pulled her away from Jesus. And the results were that she was miserable. And for too many people, especially Christians, we have over-valued service for Jesus to the point that we have under-valued spending time with Jesus. We have not accurately assessed the value of a relationship with our Creator. We have put the call above The Caller... the gift above The Giver... the service above The Guest of Honor. When we do this, the symptoms are easy to recognize. Like Martha, we become distracted, anxious, troubled, accusatory, blameful, controlling, and overwhelmed. But Mary didn't experience that. She set the example that we should all strive after. She left the kitchen to spend time with her guest. Bravely, courageously she put a target on her back to be perceived as someone being irresponsible, neglectful of others, and possibly even lazy. But she was right. She was enjoying the presence of God. And that's the point. We were created to enjoy God's presence above everything else. To find our greatest joy simply hanging out with Jesus. Martha was trying to do good things, but anything that takes the place of spending quality time with Jesus is, by definition, a distraction from Jesus. Don't be mistaken, service is very important and it has its place. But too often, for too many people, it has wrongly taken the place of our one necessity in life - being with Jesus. Service should be an overflow of our time spent with Jesus, not a substitute.
The great thing is that spending time with God is both simple and easy just like spending time with a best friend. Taking 10, 20, or 30 minutes a day to just hang of with God will lead to a fulfillment & contentment that is incomparable to anything else life has to offer. It's like winning the World Series everyday! Oh, it will take a little discipline, wisdom, and fight to get out of the kitchen, or turn the TV off, or put your phone down, or get up 15 minutes earlier. But all those things are a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.
As one of my favorite former pastors used to say, "The main thing is to keep The Main Thing the main thing." =)
STRiVE to THRiVE!