This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of sharing with our staff and students after worship for the first time. As I prayed about what God wanted to share, I had a few things in mind, but the main thought that kept coming back to me was “how do I encourage and challenge teams that are about to go on outreach and still do the same for everyone that’s here?” God gave me a common thread and these are the three main points that I shared with the base.
Don’t Glorify Busy
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 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
I wrote a post a few years ago about my new revelation of the Mary/Martha story, but I’ll give you a bit of what I highlighted on Tuesday here. I think often when we read this story we cast Martha in a horrible light. We put Mary on a pedestal. I think what Jesus said is so true, but I feel a few years ago God gave me a different perspective on this story. Martha was doing something that we all love and value (and expect) today – she was being hospitable. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think what Jesus wanted to draw out, though, is that Mary had her priorities straight and Martha didn’t. If I picture Mary, I don’t picture someone who is immune to serving. Quite the contrary actually. I imagine a woman who fiercely loves and serves others out of a love and revelation she had received from Jesus first. She chose Jesus and as a result, she chose others next. Martha got caught up – “distracted” it says – and she is actually a common picture of people in ministry today. We get so caught up in ministry, in the work of God, that we forget to sit. Sitting precedes serving.
I encouraged the outreach team to remember that when they are busy serving. Always serve out of a place or in response to sitting at Jesus’ feet first. Our culture has begun glorifying busyness, but Jesus is showing something different.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5
A similar thread but a different spin, staying connected to the vine, as Jesus talked about in John 15, is so vital if bearing fruit is at all in your vision, which as Christians it should be. “Apart from me you can do nothing.” That’s pretty clear to me, yet, in our busy, independent culture today, we forget this truth and try to do it all ourselves. Then, after so long of doing that, the inevitable burnout creeps in and tries to convince us that we aren’t cut out for this or that or we don’t love this or that. It’s totally not true and often an overly emotional response – a human response – when, by staying connected, our spirit is able to lead our emotions. It’s so much better this way. We need to stay connected!
Recognize What He Has Made Available
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I read this verse one morning last week as a part of this challenge my church is doing. They give you a book with a verse for each day, and you write it out and pray it over people. I did that, but then as I was preparing for base day, I was reminded of a few keys words/phrases in this passage.
The first thing that God pointed out was the statement “For in him you have been enriched in every way”. It doesn’t say we have been enriched in every way; it says “in him” we have been enriched in every way. There’s that similar thread of connectedness and remaining that is so necessary. I wanted to draw that out, but I also wanted to draw out that when you are in Him and He enriches you, it’s in “every” way. What I pointed out, particularly to the teams leaving on outreach, is that if we are in Christ, we can literally do anything and be effective anywhere, even if it doesn’t come to us naturally. For example, a very outgoing, people-oriented person may have no nervousness about walking up to a complete stranger and telling them about Jesus, and many would easily say he’s an evangelist. However, is it not an option for the sweet little shy girl? Absolutely not! She is so capable, but not in her own capacity or natural tendencies…in Him!
When you are walking out in what God calls you to, whether a big picture decision or a tiny, day-to-day one, you have a capacity to do incredible things, but that capacity is only possible in Him!
Don’t Glorify Busy.
Recognize What He Has Made Available.