One Thing Luke 10:38-42
Whether we’ll admit it or not, most of us see the arrival of the New Year as a chance to start over... to reboot... to make a fresh start.
It’s why we sometimes make New Year’s Resolutions.
We tell ourselves “this is the year” that we’re finally going to do it... We’re gonna make the commitment! We’re gonna do something different... something good... something meaningful. We’re full of hope and possibility.
But what usually happens? The same ole’ thing, right?
I saw a meme on New Years Day that read, “My goal for 2019 is to accomplish the goals of 2018... which I should have completed in 2017... because I promised to do them in 2016... and planned to do them in 2015... after needing to tend to them in 2014.”
Sound familiar? For most of us... within a few days, or weeks, our good intentions and lofty goals are all gone... and we feel deflated, sad and guilty. I’m not a big fan of New Year's resolutions because of that.
But, one good thing about New Year's resolutions... is that they remind us of the fact that we all want our lives to count. We want our lives to make a difference in some form or fashion. I’ve never met anyone who said, “It’s my goal to waste my life. I want to be an absolute loser. I want to squander my life.”
Of course, the fact is... far too many people do waste their lives... and don’t even realize it. They aren’t intentionally doing it. But, they don’t seem to know any better. They’re working for, and striving after the wrong things. And to some degree, we’re all guilty!
The good news is that we don’t have to know everything there is to know, and we don’t have to be perfect to live a productive, joyful, fruitful, meaningful life. We don’t have to get everything right! We don’t have to understand everything, or dot every “i” and cross every “t”.
To live a life that’s truly meaningful... to make an impact... to be the people God has called us to be... only “one thing” is needed.
Our gospel lesson today is the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Two of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples. They were both intent on serving Jesus. Martha, working away in the kitchen, making sure every need was met... Mary content to sit at Jesus' feet, hanging on every word.
Of course, when Martha complained that Mary was doing the wrong work - that she should be helping Martha do the real work... Jesus said, “Martha, you’re worried and upset about many things, but FEW things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” It’s a story that relates perfectly to this time of year.
I mean, think about it. All the effort, the preparation... the cooking... the shopping... starts way back BEFORE Thanksgiving. We travel... we go to parties and dinners... We visit store after store (website upon website)... We spend tons of money, worrying about gifts, and decorations, and getting everything just right. Christmas Eve & Christmas Day come and go like a blur... and all that busyness (and mildly controlled chaos) continues into the New Year for most do us! Tammy and I have driven over 1,100 miles last week alone! I’ve been to Tennessee twice, Birmingham, South Carolina, Columbus... all since Thanksgiving! And many of you have traveled much further than that!
My point is... sometimes we’re so busy, so preoccupied with the preparations, that we risk missing the reason for all our efforts in the first place!
And if you and I, as followers of Christ, lose sight of that “one thing” - we’ve lost sight of the only thing that matters.
Of course, that “one thing” is never explicitly defined by Jesus... at least not in the story of Mary and Martha. It’s implied, for sure... but never specifically defined. And the story itself is kind of a cliffhanger! It’s open-ended... it’s never drawn to conclusion.
And, I could certainly be wrong, but I personally think that’s the point.
Because the “one thing” that’s better, and needed, for us to walk in the fullness of life in Christ, is slightly different for each of us.
For some of us, that “one thing” that WE need... could be to be more loving... or more forgiving. It may be that we need to pray more, or be more intentional about worship. That “one thing” could be that you need to finally respond to the call of Christ upon your life, and stop playing games with God... and commit to serve him... I don’t know what your “one thing” is...
But I do know... all of us could certainly learn to slow down, and listen... to one another for sure... but more importantly to Christ. If we’re listening to Christ, and striving to love and follow Him, with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will naturally be in a place to listen, and hear each other better - AND we’ll be more sensitive to God’s will for our lives!
Of course, I also know... that our “one thing” always leads back to faith. Faith to listen, yes... faith to love and forgive, sure! But also faith to trust, and to follow Christ as we live-out God’s will for our lives in 2019.
Ralph McGill, is a former editor/publisher, the Atlanta Constitution, and in his book “The Fleas Come With the Dog” he has a wonderful take on faith, and the “one thing” that’s needed most:
He said, ”No man may say what his faith is, and no man may really define his God, because to define faith or God is to limit both. So beware of the sure men, the glib men, the men who have it all down pat and can prove it all to you as a mathematician can weigh the earth or measure the light-years of the sun; avoid the men who can cut out a faith for you and fit it to you as a tailor fits you a suit. No man can get his faith in such fashion. Faith, or even just part of a faith, perhaps a faith lacking a vest and being short in the sleeves, grows on a man, and it is always worn and never new from the fitter’s. And it is a faith which the possessor knows and in which he discovers some new strength every now and then, like a blind pig finding an acorn. It is such a faith that if one were to ask, “What is it?” the answer would have to be, “I do not know, but it is there.”
You, nor I, have to be perfect... we only need to perfectly trust that our faith in Christ is enough. It’s the “one thing” we truly need. It’s the better thing, that leads to a life of purpose and meaning and fulfillment.