Out of curiosity I googled ‘the most distracted society in history’ – and received over 28 million results! Wow! Whether we are in fact ‘the most distracted society in history’ may be debatable. But what is indisputable is that we are living in a world of distraction. For example, in our 21st Century world amidst the tsunami of technological revolution and all the associated gadgets accompanying its’ power and convenience, there are some unintended consequences. One of those unintended consequences is distraction. Because you see, along with our gadgets and the power of possibilities they provide, both for great gain and great ill, our use of them may at times keep us from engaging things of greater importance.
It seems to me distraction is an enemy to our spiritual walk with Jesus, and part of that walk is our evangelistic engagement. As we think about our kingdom responsibilities as witnesses for Jesus, our use of time is important:
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Colossians 4:5
Distraction then is nothing new, and as we touch upon the narrative of Mary and Martha from the gospel of Luke, there are applications for us as His witnesses.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha is distracted with much serving. She’s not sidetracked by out and out evil or sinful behavior. In fact, she was involved in a productive enterprise – serving the Lord! It just wasn’t the ‘best’ thing in the moment. What she lost was an opportunity for a deeper walk with God and an opportunity to serve Him more effectively.
While Martha was distracted by much serving, we may be distracted by the myriad of leisure and entertainment options we have or by the business of life. I don’t know about you, but most people I know would characterize their lives as busy. – and I’m right there with you! Where does our business lie?
Sometimes I’m so busy, I erroneously think I’m too busy to pray for the lost, too busy to spend time with them and too busy to notice opportunities to share the gospel as God opens doors.
Notice the result of Martha’s distraction – ‘worried, troubled,’ and unhappy with Mary. Instead of rebuking Mary, ironically Jesus gently corrects Martha by illustrating her sister’s devotion.
But what of the ‘one thing’ to which Jesus refers?
Mary kept the main thing the main thing – Jesus. What did she do and what did she gain? Mary ‘sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.’ So simple, yet so powerful and transformative.
The text doesn’t tell what happened after Mary did this. Is it possible she joined Martha in serving Jesus. If so, after spending time with the Lord, it seems likely Mary would have served more effectively, being at peace instead of being worried and troubled?
Oh, that I would be intentional in spending time with the Lord, and as I do, also committing my daily witness to Him!
Distraction or Devotion. What shall we choose? Seeking Him first is devotion – allowing Him to order our steps and enabling us to redeem the time, serving Him most effectively. And no doubt, some of that serving will be engaging the one thing you can’t do in heaven, the work of evangelism – prayer, service, proclamation.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:30-33)
Sitting at His feet before serving in His name is a good principle to remember! Be careful lest we get our priorities mixed up. When we are tempted to be like Martha, which is often, may we first choose ‘the one thing that is needed’ – Jesus!