I expect you are reading through Luke’s documentary with many of us, so I don’t need to remind you of the mission of the seventy sent ones and their return; the inevitable end of the cities who rejected them (and, by extension, Jesus and his Father who sent him); and their rejoicing over those who heard and received their word. However, I did enjoy being privy to the debrief— the “kingdom near you” report. 🙂
The Kingdom near you, and in you, is not a small aspect of the gospel Jesus preached, nor the teaching of the epistles. In fact, it is central to it. While yesterday’s discussion about the kingdom and how we live in it might seem like too much—too much to hope for, too much responsibility, and altogether too much focus on us—I learned long ago that any good works I might do in order to be accepted by God would be worthless. I am accepted by nothing but the blood of Jesus, which is why I prefer to focus on God than on me—spending time in His word, seeing my greatest Lover, Saviour, Friend who never leaves nor forsakes me. It is time well spent, building hope and faith.
But there is scriptural basis for “doing” in order to fulfill purpose. Fulfilling purpose requires growing up, and growth requires change, always. It is definitive. The truth is we rarely change until we know we need to. And seeing what the kingdom looks like might give us a vision of where we can live.
Today, I found helpful instruction in the Master’s visit with Mary and Martha.
The first sister we meet is poor, dear Martha, the responsible one. The much-maligned doer, but the one who would, probably, accept any mission. The one everyone would add to their Favourites contacts on their phone. And, I have no doubt, someone with a heart to serve Jesus and his disciples. She was the one who welcomed him into her house, after all. But, like many overachievers, Martha eventually became worn out and complained to Jesus, “Don’t you care that my sister isn’t helping me? Tell her to help!”
Jesus did address the situation in the best possible way, but not as Martha expected. He didn’t discourage her from serving, but pointed out the real issue: her stress and anxiety. When he pointed out Mary’s better choice of the good part, I realized that choice is always ours. And some choices are better than others.
I thought back to that throw-away mention in Chapter 6, where we read that Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer with God.”
Surely, his fellowship with the Father strengthened Jesus for the work of the day, and he knew it would be strength to Martha if she would only turn aside from the work in order to enjoy the kind of fellowship Mary refused to do without.
I think Jesus is someone whose opinion we can trust on this matter, and I am here, again, convinced that the sweet fellowship of the Word, worship and prayer, quiet and personal, is better than the best mega-vitamin we could find.
From this chapter—seeing the disciples return from doing what they couldn’t possibly do themselves, and seeing Martha trying to do what she could do but letting go of what would build relationship—I hope I have learned something one of my daughter’s university professors tried to help her with occasionally, “Oh, Gillian, life is all about balance.” That it is. And balance comes from knowing the right choices to make, and when to make them.
Oh my! What an important message for us to get at Christmastime!
“One thing is needed. And Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her,” (Luke 10:42).