The best "Next Step"
Have you ever learned something – some perspective-changing information – and then have it stuck in your thinking? It’s like the concept has taken up residence your brain, and the implications of your new understanding suddenly bleed over into other areas of your life?
Well, that’s been me recently…with this whole “better meal” concept that Jesus pointed out. In the previous post, we looked at the dynamic between Martha and Mary, when Jesus arrived at their house for a visit. Martha got busy serving, but Mary chose to spend her time receiving what she could from Jesus’ conversation and teaching. Here’s how that day played out:
While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What has stuck in my mind is how Jesus acknowledged that Martha was worried about the meal preparations, but He gently told her that Mary had chosen the “better meal”.
So…if spending time with Jesus is the best choice – the right choice – for us believers, then we need to ask ourselves: How am I doing with that? When was the last time I sat and listened for what He has to say?
That’s a great place to start; however, my line of thinking didn’t stop with just me and my relationship with Jesus. My mind then made the short leap to thinking about how well the entire body of Christ is partaking in the “better meal”. And if we, as Christians, need help to understand what this “better meal” looks like in our lives – then what is the church doing to promote this?
Since we are all at different stages in our relationship with God, churches often talk about and encourage believers to take the right “Next Step” from wherever they are. And rightfully, they should. But what are the most common “Next Steps” made available?
After checking out a number of church’s websites, it really is a mixed bag in terms of what steps are presented (if any) as being part of a believer’s walk with Christ. The most common suggestions are volunteering to serve within the church or plugging into a small group or community group. The group activities typically range from social hangout events to community volunteer work, and people are generally encouraged to “do life together”.
While these options do good, helpful actions…they generally fall under the ‘Martha’ category and not the ‘Mary’ category. They aren’t what Jesus referred to as the “better meal”. We can learn a lot, grow a lot, and do a lot of good with our actions…but eventually, we’ll grow weary and burn out, wondering if this “Christian-life thing” is really worth all the effort.
The truth of the matter is we can’t confidently do what Jesus wants us to do until we know what Jesus wants us to know. We must make the same choice that Mary made – we must choose the better meal – to sit at the feet of the master and focus on Him.
During last weekend’s sermon, our lead pastor asked the question “Do you know why most people fall asleep in church? It’s not just the boring guys that stand up here. It’s because this is the most still and quiet you sit for this period of time all week long.”
If we’re honest, we know that listening to someone else talk about Jesus for 30 minutes isn’t enough to maintain us, let alone for us to live fully alive. We need better fuel than what comes second-hand and once-a-week. We need to go directly to the source. We need Jesus.
But in our crazy world how does that work? How do we find time to sit at His feet? Better yet, how do we sit at His feet, if we can’t see His feet? The two best ways for us modern believers to sit at Jesus’ feet is to engage in prayer and look at Jesus’ life in the Bible.
Maybe we avoid these things because we don’t believe we have the time. If this is you, then I encourage you to ask God to show you were you can carve out 15 minutes of your day. It’s a simple, straight-forward request, “God, I want to prioritize time with You, but I don’t know when I can. You know my schedule, please show me a time to meet with You.” Trust me, God will show you a time, and you’ll be amazed at what He can do in your life with just 15 minutes.
Maybe we avoid these things because we’re not confident in our ability to do them. No one is expected to be a Prayer Warrior or a Bible Scholar the moment they believe. We can take comfort in knowing there are many examples in the Bible of people asking to be taught how to pray or how to handle the Scriptures. In my upcoming posts, we’ll look at a few of the examples. The important thing right now is that we start – talk to God and read some of Luke or John. Look at one story from Jesus’ life and see what you can learn about Him. If you still feel like you need help, ask God to point out someone who can assist you.
Mary had to pass on some good things in order for her to do the best thing. We may need to make some similar choices to fit the time into our daily schedule. But remember…Jesus called spending time with Him “the right choice”.