One thing is Needful
Covid has brought its own challenges and sorrows to each of us since its arrival. For us as a family, living under a different local authority and health board from many of our loved ones has been hard. Recently, we’ve been allowed to see them for a very limited number of ‘essential’ reasons. This begs the question what is truly ‘essential’? Each of us have had to ask that question over recent months, is this trip to the shops essential? Would this childcare be classed essential? If I was stopped by the police in my car, could I convince them that my journey was essential? We’ve been asking the same question in relation to Church, is physical gathering essential to what the Church is, and when we gather must we sing congregationally?
A helpful reminder of that which matters most in the Christian life is found in Luke chapter 10:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’Luke 10:38-42 NIV
What was it that Mary had deemed necessary, what had she chosen that Martha had lost sight of? Mary knew that what was needed was time with Jesus. Martha wasn’t doing bad things as such, she was preparing her home for her important guest as would have been expected in the culture of the day. I’m sure she would have considered her preparations, her hard work, honouring to her Lord. But they were curtailing her fellowship with him. Mary knew she needed to be with Jesus.
Consider not only what Mary was doing though (spending time with Jesus) but how she was doing it. She sat at his feet and listened to what he said. Here is Mary adopting the position of the true disciple. Sitting in humility, learning from her Lord. “For the disciple an attitude of learning and obedience take first place” (Walter Liefeld)
How often, like Martha, we let the peripheral get in the way of the essential. We busy ourselves with distractions at the expense of that which is truly needful.
I’m sure there are many tasks for you to attend to. But one thing is needful. One thing is essential. One thing matters most, if we are to stand in the storms of life and to invest in something of eternal worth. What do we need? What is essential?
That we come to the feet of Jesus in humility, eager to listen and learn, that we might trust and obey.
‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.’Psalm 27:4-5