You and I . . . we've got this Martha thing down.
If Martha lived today I'll bet you anything her days would look a lot like our busiest days. You know those days where you're just going, going, going from one thing to the next from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall into bed?
A recent study by Time Magazine says that the average teen suffers from sleep deprivation and way more anxiety than ten years ago. This doesn't surprise me. Our culture spins on the constant treadmill of activity, fueled by monster drinks, red bull, or starbucks.
We often take this same 'busy' mentality into our spiritual life. We focus on the doing of Jesus. and not the being with Jesus. We're doing good things . . . but are we doing the right things?
Does Jesus Love Laziness?
I have two sisters so I definitely understand the tension between Martha and Mary when Jesus came over to their house for dinner and Mary was just chillin' out while Martha did all the work. I bet there was some serious eye rolling, heavy sighing, and a lot of frustration before she finally said, 'Why do I have to do everything, while Mary just sits there?!'
But Jesus doesn't rebuke Mary for what Martha thinks is laziness. What's the deal?
Is Jesus against service?
Does He endorse laziness? (Don't get too excited . . . )
No. There are two phrases from this scripture passage that give us deep insight into the heart of Christ.
- 'Martha you worry about many things' Jesus begins not by addressing the issue of Martha's work, but the disposition of her heart: worry, anxiety, control, and ultimately comparison and blame. Hospitality and being generous are necessary and beautiful virtues, but in the distractions of her work, Martha missed what was most important: JESUS in their midst.
- 'Mary has chosen the greater part' Jesus does tell Martha to slow down a bit. He doesn't give praise for her hard work or compassion for the tiring demands of service. He makes a clear value call. This is more important. Sitting at my feet and listening is more important than your work – it's actually what fuels your work.
At a Steubenville Mid America conference last Sunday, the priest talked about the story of Martha vs. Mary. Although 3500 teens joined me in that stadium, I felt like the priest was talking only to me. He reminded me that I don't need to stop being busy.
He pointed us to what is my favorite line in the whole scripture: After Jesus addressed Martha about her worry Jesus say: 'few things are needed ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù indeed only one thing is necessary. And Mary has chosen it.'
One Thing. That is it. It seems so simple. Our only focus needs to be Jesus.
You see, Martha's activity wasn't the issue. It was because her activity didn't point her to the ONE THING.
Multiple times in our day, with every activity we must invite Jesus to be our One thing. Our only thing.
FEAST DAY TO REMEMBER
Today, July 29th, is St. Martha’s feast day. Why are we having a feast day for Martha when she got it 'wrong'?
Because she can teach us an important lesson. And don't you think after this particular dinner party, she tried a little harder to keep God as her one thing?
Martha reminds me that there is nothing I can't bring to Jesus. No question, no frustration I can't call out to Him. What good friends they must have been for her to feel so comfortable coming to Him like that.
And although she 'got it wrong' just like we all sometimes do when we're overwhelmed, worried, and on the go . . . Jesus gentle invitation remains:
Come to my feet.