A friend asked me who I identified with more, Mary or Martha?
I don’t know about you but usually, when I hear someone talk about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), the focus is on Martha toiling away in the kitchen while her virtuous sister sits at Jesus’ feet. For years I longed to be more like Mary – compelled to do nothing but sit at the feet of my Lord… I’ve even cried out in prayer, “Lord, make me more like Mary!”
Eventually, I realised that this was the wrong prayer. As believers we are called to be more like Him (2 Cor 3:18), not someone else. And, by desiring to be more like Mary, I was denying who God created me to be.
One day, someone pointed out to me that the Lord did not reprimand Martha until after she complained and told Him to do something about it! In other words, it was her attitude he was addressing, not her nature to serve others.
In the preceding passage to Mary and Martha’s story, Jesus agrees with an expert of the law that we are to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soulLuke 10:27 (NIV)
and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and, Love your neighbour as yourself.
We worship the Lord when we are true to who He created us to be and we acknowledge this best when we express our worship through our native love language. Imagine if, the moment you gave your heart to the Lord, you had to learn a completely new language to communicate with Him because He couldn’t understand your native tongue…
So, what was Mary’s love language? Most likely quality time.
What was Martha’s? Probably acts of service.
On this occasion…
Was Mary loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength and mind? Yes.
Was Martha? Not quite… Her intentions were good and she certainly worked fervently, but her mind was distracted by dwelling on how much easier it would be if her sister was helping her – which means her heart wasn’t completely in it.
On love languages…
Granted we don’t all just have one love language, but we usually have a leaning more towards one than another. In fact, Jesus acknowledges our diverse love languages and extravagantly reaches out to us through all five:
- words of affirmation – He calls us brothers amongst many other things.
- acts of service – demonstrated by washing the disciples feet… He is the Servant King!
Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45
- gifts – He is the giver of gifts and all good things.
He gave us the greatest gift of all, salvation.
- quality time – He left his place in Heaven so he could dwell with man on Earth and make provision for us to dwell with Him in eternity
- physical touch – healing, comfort…
So, who do I identify with most?
Martha. I’m like daddy’s little helper who wants to serve the Lord by practically demonstrating my love and devotion. And, like Martha, I am capable of making mistakes… because I don’t always remember to engage ALL my heart, soul, strength AND mind while serving the Lord.
Can I find fulfilment in serving the Lord? Yes. In fact, I get a huge buzz when I am operating in my gifts to serve Him because I know that He is involved and invested in me. He leads, teaches, inspires and empowers me when I serve. Best of all, when I serve Him or others in His Name, I am consciously spending time with Him.
Can I find fulfilment when I sit at His feet and listen? Of course. Spending time together without distractions is essential to developing a healthy relationship.
Is one better than the other? I don’t believe we should compare them.
So, when Jesus says to Martha that Mary had chosen the better way, did he mean it was better to spend time with him by sitting at his feet and listening to him in preference to serving him? I don’t think so. He is omnipresent… and will meet us where our heart is.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
I was surprised to learn recently that being poor isn’t defined primarily by how much or little money a person has.
Poverty is about how dysfunctional or broken a person’s matrix of relationships is – with family, government, community, neighbours, those in authority, God.
The resulting isolation excludes them from all things that bring meaning and life and hope. Of course resources and money are part of this, but not the sole or even main driver of what we describe as poverty.
I’m often disappointed to see Christians and churches supporting apparently worthwhile causes that I know address only a narrow range of factors in the matrix of dysfunction. Too often we go for what is “sexy” and has a high “feel good” factor, and allows us to feel as if we are making a difference, rather than a project that has a longterm sustainable approach to addressing the range of issues that allow people to become more human.
My intent and prayers for Just Church, a March gathering at the intersection of faith, justice, worship and arts, is that people will leave the South Auckland venue knowing that God has spoken to them; that they know where to find the resources to guide and sustain them in their engagement with injustice globally, locally and personally; and how their community of faith can build for the Kingdom.
Just Church has no high-profile imported speakers. It has a wide range of local people with loads of knowledge and experience, some artists and poets, a group of Kiwi worship curators doing worldclass work in public places and in church worship, all of whom will be available for engaging with and questioning.
I’d love to meet you and to have you contribute to the conversation.
Mark Pierson – Worship Curator, ex-school teacher, ex-Baptist pastor, author (The Art of Curating Worship, The Prodigal Project, Fractals for Worship), writer, speaker on things worship and the arts, currently Christian Commitments Manager World Vision NZ, sustained by the community at The Upper Room, Auckland.
Worship is displayed on the frontline of our faith. We are called to worship, whether we are musical or not. Music isn’t worship; it is an instrument, a mode of communicating, which enables us to engage and unite on an emotional level.
I’ve been around the church scene for a while now: I been involved in mega bands, ministry groups, countless seminars, leadership, support, accompanying, singing… But that doesn’t make me a worshipper; it just means I’m musically inclined…
Worship is deliberately choosing to live life in alignment with God’s Truth.
Whenever I choose to allow God’s Truth to affect the atmosphere around me and bring me into alignment with Truth, I am committing an act of worship.
How does this happen? Well, first God plants truth in me – often though my primary love language, music – and then, the Holy Spirit enables me to retrieve these truths so that I can declare them into any situation. The choice is mine and I prepare myself by being deliberate in what I listen too.
What is corporate worship?
When we come together as a body of believers and sing a bunch of songs, we call it corporate worship – but there’s more to it than singing songs.
When we sing together, we tend to be more vocal than we would be on our own. United by the framework of music, we declare truths to ourselves and to our circumstances regardless of how engaged we feel. We encourage one another and become united when we sing with purpose.
Truth encapsulated in song has the potential to make a stronger emotional connection with our spirit and, because of the nature of the connection; is readily accessible in a time of need.
God gives us opportunities to worship
– some more intense than others…
Earlier this year, my parents were visiting from Canada and I went through the harrowing ordeal of having my father take up residence in the Intensive Care Unit at North Shore Hospital. This was probably the most extreme challenge I have ever faced. So, what got me through?
All this happened during the month of January, when just about everybody in New Zealand goes on holiday – especially those serving in the church. God knew what was going to happen. He even prepared me by having me bring a message to our church family a few days before about how God’s timing is perfect and that at the moment we step out in faith, His provision is already to meet us (Joshua 3:15-16).
True to His word, the Lord made provision for me by ensuring that the right person was available to make my family her priority in serving Him. When I called, she was there; ready to do whatever was needed. She co-ordinated communications and prayer with a congregation connected through modern technology, provided us with a safe refuge close on hand to ICU, words of wisdom, love, laughs, hugs and nourishment – both physically and spiritually.
What I needed for breakthrough was corporate worship.
Interestingly, every time I tried to have a time of worship… something blocked it. You’d think that a couple of musos could pull out a song anytime, anywhere… but no. Added to this, the church calendar was filled with ‘family picnic’ and ‘on holiday’ for the next two weeks!
Week three; there I was, crying out to God and soaking in His Presence as the music permeated my being. I was broken and in need of His touch that could only come through the support of being with others who were praising God and calling out on my behalf of me and my family.
How did my mum handle it? Strengthened by the prayers of believers and encouraged by the peace that passes all understanding, she contacted her congregation back home and requested that they sing a particular hymn and did likewise with the congregation supporting her here. She was connected… though the words of a hymn offered up on both sides of the planet.
Dad didn’t survive. But in that month, God gave me, and my son, the opportunity to share the Gospel in a much more meaningful way than ever before. The Lord also allowed me to experience worship with greater understanding.
How else can God plant truth into my life?
God created us with five physical senses to live in a multi-dimensional world. There is no end to his creativity. He can use anything to engage us in conversation imbued with Truth and to impart insight.
Music is a mechanism used to communicate with God and with each other about Him. A friend of mine goes bush to spend time with God, enjoying His creation displayed through nature. My mother loves to read and study the Word…
How do we resource the frontline?
Be there for one another, encourage and build each other up. Speak into each one another’s lives and sometimes (very often, actually) just listen.
It is important to prepare ourselves with skills and tools that stimulate us, give sustenance and direction. So stay tuned! Come back often and pass on that which might equip or inspire one another. Likewise, enter into the discussion by posting a comment below and share how God strengthens you.
Gayann and her husband, Stephen, have provided web design and email communication support to NZCN since 2006. She has home schooled their two children for the past nine years, but was ‘made redundant’ at the start of 2013. Since then, she has taken a more active role with NZCN.