You ever have that one friend, sibling or relative that has a different way of thinking and is fully willing to embarrass you in order to get you to do things their way? They enjoy ambushing others to make sure things turn out their way.
Think Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Here’s what we know. Jesus entered into a certain village and Martha received him into her house. Fact: Martha was a property owner. She had her own house. She also had a sister named Mary, and we can tell that Mary was her opposite. She was a little more laid back. She was more flexible and willing to learn.
Another Fact: Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his teaching. How did she get away with that in a male dominated society that was keen on separating the males from the females both physically as well as by assigned tasks? Yet, there she sat.
Fact: Martha was a champion worrier who was on the obsessive-compulsive side. She didn’t have the proper appreciation for the fact that the Rabbi had come to town and had been gracious enough to choose her house and to spend time there. Everyone knew that Jesus loved visiting Mary, Martha and Lazarus, but that day, Martha was hot about Mary sitting down while she was doing all the domestic work because she was certain that her performance would make her a star example. She believed it so much that she made a scene by going up to the Messiah and asking, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to come help me and do her part.”
I’m sure her behavior caused silence throughout the whole house. You could hear the bread baking.
Add to that the fact that Jesus traveled with a huge group of people, but Martha was willing to embarrass her sister point-blank in order to be seen as the authority and in order to get her way. But obviously, she didn’t have the power to push Mary around. She needed to strong-arm Jesus into being the muscle she needed, but she didn’t get the reaction she hoped for.
Jesus responded to her by saying, “You are anxious and troubled about many things.” More silence in the house.
Come on, you know Martha had her own cooking show and homemakers magazine. All the women in the village knew her need for perfection. They secretly wanted to be more like her but didn’t have the energy to devote to it. Putting that much meticulousness, time and energy into China patterns, perfect linens, stylish furniture, gourmet food and the whole pretty picture wouldn’t leave time for anything else. It certainly wouldn’t leave time for cultivating good relationships with people.
Jesus showed her that he knew her core persona. Your persona is the way you behave that causes other people to see you as a particular type of person. Jesus knew her secret agenda, and he cold-busted on her. In order to help her get an important life lesson out of her own ambush attempt and while she was still in shock about him not supporting her viewpoint, Jesus said, “Only one thing is needful.”
He explained that Mary had chosen the good portion. He announced that only one thing was necessary. And Mary who was a little more laid back, more in need of peace and truth, more inclined to avoid a life of stress, and knew how to take time out to learn about spiritual matters had chosen the one necessary thing. He even went as far as to say it would NOT be taken from her.
We all have that one person in our lives who has strong ideas. They think they’re in charge of the universe and will speak up loudly and demand an audience and a following. But how much peace do they really have? How much fear are they operating in? How quickly does their anger rise up when they don’t get their way? How willing are they to correct you publicly in order to appear to be the leading authority on every topic?
Once you make a firm, committed decision to sit at Jesus’ feet and be taught His Word, it brings about a certain type of peace inside. It raises your expectation level. It works your faith muscle. Martha’s next significant encounter with Jesus was when her brother Lazarus became sick and died. Jesus was notified of his sickness, but he didn’t actually arrive until Lazarus had been dead for four whole days. He had the capacity to come, but he didn’t. When he was almost there, Martha heard about it and ran out to meet him outside of town. She couldn’t wait any longer even though her brother was dead and everyone was going through the grieving process. What was her rush?
When she reached him, she reacted with the more dominant part of herself. She greeted Jesus with accusation. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But Martha also had that half yes/half no kind of faith. You know what I mean. Should I believe, or will I get embarrassed for believing too big? We know this because the next thing she said was, “But I know that even now, whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you.”
Well, OK, Miss Martha! Maybe you’ve been spending some time listening to Jesus, listening to the living, life-giving Word of God. Maybe you put off baking that extra dish in order to have your faith built up. Maybe the Word of God is beginning to transform you. Maybe you’re beginning to hear the leading of God. Maybe you’ve let the peace of God begin to take up residence in your heart, mind and emotions, pushing out anxiety, obsessions and bossiness and even the need to ambush others.
Keep spending time with Him. Enjoy learning at His feet. Your transformation is coming.