Tis the season for being busy. Work, family, holidays, Christmas shopping, obligation, expectations, travel, workaholism, etc. My own busy week is a reminder of this 'acceptable addiction' to work and busy-ness. In a number of C.S. Lewis' writings he mentions that distractions in life, keeping a person busy, and rationalizing your actions are seemingly innocent, but in reality are some of the enemy's best tools against our relationship with Christ. And in the midst of being distracted we justify everything from idolatry, to many other sins.
To borrow from a sermon that I'll list a link to at the end of this e-mail....this is a question of which kind of person we are from the examples of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
In this story, you have to take into account that a woman's place in Jewish culture was to take care of the home, the meal arrangements, cooking, etc. Women didn't get to sit with the teacher or rabbi and learn from them. So, Mary breaks from being busy with preparations for a meal, taking care of the house, taking care of the family...to do something that is forbidden in their culture...sit at the feet of Jesus and spend time with him. Martha gets upset at this, and goes to Jesus directly to get him to tell Mary to take her place helping her with all the work. But Jesus says that Mary has chosen what is better, and that will not be taken from her.
Which person are we? Are we Mary or Martha? Do we reject the conventions of the world we live, revolt against the busyness of all the things that always need to be done, and take time to have what really makes a difference in our lives (like Mary)? Or do we become myopic and consumed with the 'preparations' of life...all its tasks to complete...and put that obstacle in front of faith and relationship with Jesus (like Martha)?
Once we have those obstacles in front of our relationship with Jesus...how much do we become willing to justify? How must sin? How many unwise choices that seem fine in the world's eyes? We we rationalize more and more poor choices and sin, we prevent ourselves from receiving the life that Jesus freely gives...and then sit in wonderment about why things seem so unfair in life, or so complicated.
After all...the devil waits like a predator looking for whom he may devour. But we are supposed to have our eyes fixed on the Lord, and let go of the anxieties of this world, let go of the distractions, let go of the appetite for 'stuff' the world has to offer.
Our value, our identity, our source of love, and our source of energy is Christ. And out of that comes the outpouring of life and goodness into the rest of the areas of our lives. So, my friends, this season remember what is truly important. If you are 'busy', remember that life is not about busyness. If you are distracted by 'stuff' or sin, remember that Christ wants to forgive you and replace that with life and love. If you are apart from your relationship with God...that he is the only place that love is derived from. And if you are apart from the relationships God has given you in your life, remember that our time on the earth is short and easily squandered.
Remain in Christ, and He will remain in you. And from there (and only there) will your life spill over positively to those around you.
BTW....here is that link:
11/18/2007 – A Better Way, Greg Boyd – sermon length is 51:20 minutes
Luke's story of Mary and Martha is very relevant for our culture: like Martha, we are obsessed with working and producing, even in the church! It's clear that Mary's "better way" revolts against simply "doing" and prioritizes a relationship with Christ. When that's in place, the kingdom will naturally flow from us. But the opposite is not true. We'll never get a relationship with Jesus by focusing on what we do. Greg also ties this important lesson to marriages.