38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But 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!”
41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed—or indeed only one.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV).
For many years this touching story has been relayed to us as an encouragement or word of instruction to be more taken up with an intimate relationship with Jesus like Mary was and not to be distracted and pre-occupied with many things like Martha was. However, I believe that in this story, the Lord is also speaking a vital message to the corporate church today.
We know that the church is the entire body of believers in Christ, don’t we? That is, the members of Christ’s own body, collectively the entire world of genuine believers.I don’t have to point out that the church is not the building on the street corner that Christians gather in for a church ‘service’. So with that in mind, let’s be honest and take a good look at her, the church, us corporately, in our/her current state.
Let’s for a moment, broaden our thoughts and vision of the church way beyond our local church community or ekklesia, though that is not to be ignored in this matter because even in what we call ‘organic’ church life, we can still have a Martha spirit. We can be more concerned with how we meet, than Who we meet.
A Martha spirit is concerned with the How and Why. A Mary Spirit is concerned with the Who and Where.
So what is the corporate church, and perhaps even your local church community, busy with in this current time? I’ll list a few things that come to my mind and you can no doubt ad to the list.
- World peace
- Gay marriage
- Religious tolerance
- End Time Prophecy
- The poor
To quote our Lord Jesus “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things…but only one thing is needed…(Luke 10:41)
I believe the Lord is saying this to His church right now in this current climate we are in. We are worried and upset about many things…
This is a Martha spirit.
Jesus continued…”Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42).
Church, the Spirit of the Lord is encouraging us to choose what is better just as Mary did. What was she doing that Jesus would say that of her? She was at His feet, captivated by Him, surrendered and taken up with Him, humbled before Him. This is the better part, this is the one thing that is needed.
Did we hear that just then? Jesus said “…but only one thing is needed…”. This is our need at this hour, church. For the church to be humbled at the feet of her Lord, to be captivated and solely given up to Him, is the Mary spirit and this is what is needed!
Church, we need to be fixated and captivated by Jesus Christ alone. We are not to be taken up with all the many things, upsets and worries of this world. This is the Lord’s very own words to Martha and to Mary, as a corporate word to the whole body of Christ.
Many Christians today are worried and upset, getting busy with their own ideas of how to tackle the world problems and set things right, wanting to infiltrate the political play with a touch of Christian values, agonising over moral issues and dilemmas the world is frothing up to the surface. But Jesus says in effect, that none of our activity in any of this is needed!
What is needed however, is that corporately we are found at Jesus’ feet, gazing into His eyes, hanging on every word, so close to Him that we can feel His breath blowing on our cheek as He speaks. This is the good part, this is what is needed. And this is to be a corporate matter, not just an individual matter as we had once thought. The Lord has one body, not many, though His one body is made up of many parts. He is calling to His corporate church to fix her eyes upon Him, and this is the good part, the part that is needed and that will not be taken away from her.
To the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation chapter 2, Jesus says they had forgotten their first love. Martha had forgotten her first love. Mary had not. And what is the image we have of Mary in that moment? We see her relaxed, at peace, in rest and joy, exhilarated by and enraptured with her Lord.
May we the church, God’s representative of His Son on earth, have a Mary spirit in this very hour.
“No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer…” 2 Timothy 2:4