Monday, August 17, 2009

Martha vs. Martha (or Ken vs. Ken)

As I've taken some time off this summer, it's given me time to reflect on my routines. And as I've done so, I've thought about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. It's not the first time I've felt challenged at Jesus' unflinching comparison of Mary's devotion to Martha's distraction. But this time, I noticed the way the story highlights conflict within Martha herself. I mean, sure, Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus puts most of us in a rather bad light. But even aside from Mary, I realized that I can identify way too well with the way Martha seems at odds with herself!

Luke 10:38 describes "a woman named Martha" who "welcomed Jesus into her house." Not a bad thing. Not bad at all. There were others in the Gospels who didn't welcome Jesus anywhere, let alone their house. But then in Luke 10:40, it's said that "Martha was distracted with much serving" -- so much so that she complained to Jesus about Mary not helping.

It's the phrase "much serving" that got my attention. That seems to me to be something commendable in my world. Those willing to sacrificially serve are highly praised -- in the church as well as in society. But in this instance it's labelled as a distraction, and it stands in contrast to Martha's initial welcome. "Martha welcomed Him... Martha was distracted with much serving."

I can't help but see what a mirror this is of my own life. There was a day when I initially welcomed Jesus into my heart and home. I was thrilled He was willing to come in! But as I've sought to live for Him, things I've done for Him have become a distraction from Him. As a pastor, I feel particularly vulnerable to this. Reflecting back on this past year, it feels as though the level to which I've been distracted with "much serving" has sometimes been greater than the level to which I've welcomed Jesus into my heart from day to day. Though it's painful to face up to, it seems like there have been days when I've even forgotten that He's there in my heart, waiting for my fellowship, while I scurry about with "much serving."

As I face the coming season that will follow this summer break, I know that the answer is not to minimize the value of serving. Jesus set an amazing example of serving and challenged His disciples to follow that example (John 13:14-15). But I must be alert to how easily my desire to serve Jesus can conflict with my desire to welcome Him in my heart. And it's important that I remember: It's not what I do for Him that truly matters, but who I am in Him as I enjoy His friendship.

© 2009 by Ken Peters

1 comment:

kenny said...

Great blog Ken

I reflect on this a lot, with ministry and serving. We can serve and get caught up in the wave of 'doing good' and trying to be there for everyone. This summer, I spent some time reflecting on Jesus' time with the Father. He ministered out of that relationship and the importance of it. I too come face to face with my own reality of 'serving' rather than getting the much needed 'relationship' with Jesus.

Peace to you take time in the presence of your Father.