One is Better Than Many
By Mary Kroeger
Often we are overwhelmed by the busyness of life. When we meet someone and ask how he/she is doing, the answer is "busy". It used to be "fine" or "pretty good". Now, in spite of all the mechanical help that we have, people are still busy. Maybe even busier than in before.
In Luke 10 we have story of Mary and Martha. "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 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!' 41 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" (vv. 38-42)
Here we see that Martha was upset because Mary was not helping her with preparations. So she came to Jesus to complain about her sister, and to tell Him what He should do to make life easier for herself. She may have felt it was unfair that she was doing all the work while Mary was just sitting there, listening. Maybe we have also been guilty of telling God what He should do to make life easier for us. Isn't it amazing how we think God needs our advice to solve a particular difficulty?! We may even get angry when He does not take our advice.
In this story we see that Jesus surprised Martha. She thought that He would agree with her, but He did not. Do you think Martha was shocked by His answer? Surprised to learn that she was the one who needed to change? I have also had that experience. When I complained to God about someone, He told me I had to change. God is for us, but He does not take sides. He always does what is right!
Martha had to experience a correction in her thinking. She thought Jesus would sympathize with her. She thought she was doing what would please Him. Instead, her many unnecessary concerns were due to the expectations she felt from herself and from others. She possibly also felt some self-pity. Her high standard for hospitality needed a lot of preparations. Maybe she was getting tired. Maybe she felt a bit of jealousy. Here she was, slaving away, while her sister Mary was not doing anything! She was just enjoying Jesus!
Humanly speaking, we would probably agree with Martha. But Jesus saw the real need! He saw what was beyond the appearance! He always deals with the core of the problem. He told her that said she was worried and bothered (or upset) by many unnecessary things. Martha thought she was pleasing Jesus by her many preparations, and that Jesus would understand that she needed her sister's help to accomplish everything needed for His comfort and enjoyment! This help could only be obtained by drawing her sister away from her fellowship with Jesus.
We too may have the mistaken idea that we have to be very busy for the Lord, instead of taking time to fellowship with Him.
This busyness often leads to anxiety. Our many ideas of what gives Him pleasure have to be done away with. Instead, we have to learn to know what His desire is, and the way He desires us to love Him! His corrections come out of His love - not as a rebuke but as a learning process. They do not break up our fellowship with Him but lead us into a deeper relationship with Him.
Listening to Jesus and learning from Him was more important than preparing food or whatever else for Him! Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus - a place of humility - and learning from Him! She was concerned for only one thing! She wanted to learn by listening to Him and spending time with Him!
This is the one thing that is needful for all of us! Like Martha, many Christians think that the most important thing is to be involved in a ministry that consists of doing things for Him. But that ministry has to flow out of the time spent with Him – not in our own ideas. In other words, our ministry has to have its source in Him. In the intimacy of fellowship, a change takes place in us, and our only desire is to do His will! When this desire is our driving force, He can entrust a ministry to us.
This truth was embedded in the heart of the apostle Paul! The church in Corinth was ignorant of this fact. The believers thought that because they were gifted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and because they had so much knowledge, they were doing very well. Yet Paul said they were still babes; they were still carnal! Why? Because Christ was not central in their lives!
Their pride and self-importance had not been dealt with! Divisions and problems were thriving in their midst, and they lacked love!
So in 1 Cor. 1:9 Paul wrote, "God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." What an awesome calling!
Our calling is not into a certain ministry but to have fellowship with Jesus Christ! In times of fellowship we learn to know who He is! We learn to know and receive His love! We learn to know that He has all wisdom, and that He is completely trustworthy! In the intimacy of fellowship He tells us what His will for us is! In this love relationship, He encourages us, corrects us, leads and guides us! Having fellowship with Him is the ONE thing that is needful for us!
Our call into fellowship with Christ takes us out of the many-sided fellowship with self! It takes us out of self-will, self-importance, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, self-adoration and our desire for praise from others! Instead of doing our own will, we will only desire to do the will of Christ. Instead of self-importance and self-esteem, we will want the glory of the grace and truth that is in Christ to flow from us. Instead of self-adoration and praise from others, we will only want the "Well-done, you good and faithful servant" that comes from Christ!
In our fellowship with Christ, we see His pre-eminence! We see that He is all we need! We see our oneness with Him! We see that He is our righteousness, our strength, our redemption, our wisdom, our sanctification, our peace and our joy! Praise God, He is all we need!