Singularity of Purpose – Sunday, July 21, 2019

“You are worried and distracted” Lk. 10:40

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Reflection: For everything there is a a season, and time for ever matter under heaven, says the writer of Ecclesiastes (3:1). How we generally live out our discipleship is also seasonal and singular. There are seasons in our lives when we engage in seeking for and welcoming more of the fullness of God into our lives through the spiritual disciplines of worship, study, prayer, and reflection. And there are seasons when we live out our discipleship in acts of service and advocacy that seek the common good and God’s justice in the world. Both spiritual dispositions are right and both are part of the fullness of our Christian discipleship.

In today’s lectionary reading, Jesus invites Martha – “who is worried and distracted by many things” – to recognize that while he is near, the season to singularly welcome more of his fullness into her life is more important than everything else she could engage in at that particular time.

I can identify with Martha. When I was in seminary, my mind was occupied with all I could be doing in ministry and for the sake of others in the name of Jesus Christ. On one particular day while in my Introduction to Theology (speech and thought about the nature and work of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit) class, I thought to myself, “I’m wasting my time reading, writing, and reflecting about theology when I should instead be preaching, teaching, discipling others, and ministering to the disinherited. Dr. Ellen Charry, my professor, must have read my mind. In the middle of her lecture, she stopped and said,

“Some of you here today are thinking you are wasting your time in seminary because you should be out in the world serving God. Let me remind you that the greatest commandment is that we are to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, all our strength, and with all our mind’ (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). What you are doing in seminary in this season of your life is singularly loving God with your mind. You are learning how to think clearly about God. What you think about God is important because the people you serve will depend upon it. Your singular work as a seminary student is to build the theological framework that will guide your ministry in the years to come.”

There are so many pressing local, state, and national issues that clamor and call out for our immediate attention and response as disciples of Jesus Christ. With so much clamor in our world calling our for our attention, we can easily step into all kinds of frays, expend ourselves running in all directions with uncertainty, become overwhelmed, and flail at air to exhaustion like a fighter without landing any solid punches (1 Corinthians 9:26). In seasons of so much to do with so little time to do it, we need the time and space to reflect and think deeply about God’s nature and ways and our calling as God’s people so that our actions in the world can be grounded in our understanding about who God is and what God desires for our clamoring world. Our devotional time with God enables us to discern what God is calling us to singularly give ourselves to as individuals and congregations with clarity and a sense of purpose in the hope that our devotional, prophetic, and missional efforts will be Christ-centered, God-pleasing, Spirit-led, fruitful, life-giving, and not be in vain.

Prayer: Call us to you presence Lord when we are worried and distracted by so much clamor in our world. Fill us with the desire to desire to choose your essential life which cannot be taken away from us.

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