By Elder Lynette Shek
Luke 10:40-42 “But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.” (New English Translation Bible)
As I was preparing to write this pastoral page, I looked back at the past few ones, and they were about topics related to the pandemic and how, as Christians, we should respond. We were exhorted to wait patiently, to remember that we have a great and wonderful God who is ever faithful, to find our source of peace and joy in the Lord, and to rejoice evermore with hearts of gratitude. I am very grateful for all these reminders, because we need them during this time. We have a hope that is glorious, more glorious, more joyful, more wonderful than we can hope or imagine, and this hope brings a peace, joy and thrill to the soul that this world cannot.
But what I have been struggling with is how to keep this hope, peace and joy alive in my heart with all the news that we have been hearing. We hear about the worsening situation in different countries, the fact that we are going back to a heightened Phase 3, the tightening of regulations and the emergence of new mutations.
I think the clue to having this heart is found in these verses. Most of us know the story well. Martha was busy doing real work, probably good work at that. The Lord and his entourage had arrived at Bethany and Martha was busy preparing her home for them. But there was her sister, Mary, just sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to him. The Lord’s reply to Martha’s complaint probably surprised Martha, and is a clarion call for us. The verse above says that Jesus told Martha “only ONE thing is needed’, and that Mary had chosen it. She had chosen what was better, what was good. If I can interpret it, it is to spend time with Jesus and have a personal, living, vibrant, moment-by-moment, dependent relationship with Him.
I believe that as we do, we are transformed into greater Christlikeness. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed into Christ’s image as we behold Him, as we contemplate His glory. Communing regularly with Christ transforms us so that we become more and more like Him in thought, wisdom, desire, motivation, character and behavior.
More like Him! Oh, how all of us need that. We often speak of desiring to have greater intimacy with Jesus, but are we willing to put the time and effort into that? Do we trust that in Christ is the peace, joy and hope our hearts desire, or have we put our hope in jobs, relationships, position, power, money, health? Do we believe that if we keep the Sabbath by resting, He will keep us and what we love? Do we believe that like the Father in the story of The Prodigal Son, God the Father loves us, forgives us when we turn to Him, and lavishes the riches of heaven on us? As we spend time with Jesus, as we gaze at the magnificence of Christ, we find that we do believe, we do trust, that we are transformed.
Perhaps your relationship with God has grown distant and cold. Perhaps it has become a duty, a duty that has to be performed automatically rather than a time of joy. Perhaps you have never set aside the time because there is just so much else taking your time and attention. Perhaps, like Martha, you have faithfully attended church, attended Bible study, ferried your children to Sunday School, but the intimacy of time with the Lord, just you and Him, is missing. Perhaps you do not know how to grow in intimacy with the Lord. If the last is true, speak to one of the church staff, and they will be happy to help you. With many of us now working from home and limiting social activities, let us set aside time just to get to know Jesus personally. Nothing in this world is more important than this. Come, join me in the great privilege and joy of growing more and more in love with Jesus, and allowing Him to love us as we spend time with Him.