Thursday, July 23, 2009


Luke 10:38-42
Jesus and his disciples arrived in Bethany where they were offered hospitality at the home of Martha and Mary. Mary 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 only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I remember reading about Henry VIII’s progressions throughout England. He used to take these journeys and stop at the castles and great homes of his favored nobles. It was a great honor to have the king choose to visit your home. But when Henry travelled, he travelled with a huge entourage. Castle kitchens were overwhelmed with tons of various kinds of game and domestic meats. Mountains of vegetables were prepared. Hundreds of barrels of wine had to be brought in. There were countless trays of breads and pastries that had to be baked. The kitchen was working around the clock in order to ensure that everything was properly prepared for the king’s visit.

When Jesus visited he also travelled with an entourage, his apostles and the rest of his disciples. When he arrived in Bethany Martha acted as many women would. She shifted into high hospitality gear and started preparing all the things that had to be made. Jesus sat speaking to all the people who gathered around him. Martha hustled and bustled back and forth taking care of all the preparations while her sister, Mary, sat and listened to the Lord’s teaching. You can picture Martha scowling at her sister every time she passed her! Finally she had had enough of her lazy sister! She complained to Jesus, fully expecting him to prompt Mary to get up and help her. But Jesus surprised her. He told her that she was worrying about all the wrong things and that Mary had her priorities in place. Mary wanted to hear what Jesus said and Martha was concerned about preparations.

My wife is a Mary. As a pastor I have had many opportunities to offer hospitality to quite a few well-known pastors, speakers, authors, etc. My dear wife made it very clear to me before we even got married. She said, “I’ll be thrilled to have them in our home but I want you to know that we’ll be having hot dogs because I don’t want to miss out on anything! I’m not going to spend all my time in the kitchen while you guys sit and have great discussions!” I was very impressed by that. I kind of think that is what Jesus was trying to say to Martha. “Martha, Martha! Don’t you know we would all be happy with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Just put out the bread and the jars and come and sit down. We’ll be fine!”

How does this apply to church life? How does this apply to church planting? What can we learn from Martha, Mary, and Jesus? What are the things that cause us to be worried, upset, and distracted? What should we be doing instead of hustling around? And what constitutes hustling around? We need to find a way to sit at the feet of Jesus instead of running all our programs and strategizing ways to attract more people to those programs. I think we tend to get all caught up in the management of church activities and fail to invest our time in worship, praise, and prayer. Church planters and church plants get distracted with the numbers game; more and more people. By sitting at Jesus’ feet Mary learned about the important things. I wonder if we really know what the important things are?


At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Sean Nemecek said...

I sometimes wonder if there are any Marys left in our country - we are so busy doing so many things. Work, sports, entertainment, and even family often (or usually) come before Jesus. Even in the church we are so busy doing the various tasks that we forget to focus on worship, prayer, relationship, and study.

Thanks for the post. It really got me thinking.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Thank YOU, Sean. Thanks for stopping by after such a long absence on my part. We had some vacation time and I've been especially busy writing a paper so my ordination can be transferred into the RCA. You're a dear friend and I miss talking with you!

I agree about the "busyness" of church people. We act as if we just stay really busy the work of the kingdom will advance. I suspect it is rather the opposite! Church planters seem to be especially guilty of this!


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