Many of us are familiar with the story from the Gospels of Jesus visiting two sisters – Mary and Martha. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus to learn from Him and Martha works in the kitchen and complains that she is getting no help.
The most common application (in my experience anyway) that we are told to take from this story is that we are stop everything that we are doing in order to just “be” with Jesus or something similar to that. Of course there is truth in that but I do not believe that is the whole point that Jesus is making here.
The issue here is that Mary chose intimacy with Jesus – being with Jesus no matter what else was going on around her and Martha chose proximity with Jesus – they were in the same house but she was distracted by what she was doing.
You may be thinking that this is exactly the same application that we are used to but it is not.
Because Jesus wasn’t scolding Martha for working or doing what she was doing. Jesus was scolding Martha for being distracted.
Martha could have been doing all the things that she was doing and still chosen intimacy with Him but she chose to be distracted by her doing.
As followers of Christ, we are not called to stop everything we are doing and live our whole lives in only contemplation. No! Contemplation is an important part of our relationship with God but that is not the only way we can be intimate with Him.
John Ortberg in his book “God Is Closer Than You Think” puts it this way:
“. . . as a general rule we don’t need to switch activities in order to be with Jesus. All we need to do is invite Him into whatever we are doing at the moment” (pg. 58).
Martha got distracted. She wasn’t doing bad things. She simply wasn’t being with Jesus. We can easily fall into this trap too if we are not careful.
So the question we need to ask ourselves is: What is it that keeps us from living in the presence of God all day long?
Usually it is not that we have deliberately chosen to keep God at arm’s length but I suspect that many of us are like Martha. We invite Jesus into our “homes” but we end up missing out on His presence – not because we have rejected Him but because we get distracted. We get distracted by life and we forget that Jesus is right there with us.
What it comes down to is: we can have proximity with God (because He is always with us but we are distracted from recognizing His presence) or we can have intimacy with God (because we have invited Him into whatever we are doing).
I want intimacy with God!
I want to invite Him into everything that I am doing. I know that I have a long way to go in this but I also know that it is a daily process of learning to invite God into everything that I am doing.
How about you? How would you describe your current relationship with God? Do you just have proximity with Him or are you seeking intimacy with Him in ALL that you are doing?