“Those who think they can wrap themselves in the fig leaves of their loving intentions and actions toward God and neighbor are in for a big surprise. ‘Just love God and people’ is not the gospel; it is precisely that holy demand of the law that we have grievously failed to keep.”
How were Mary's thoughts devoted,
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted,
At her Savior's feet reclined!
How kindled her heart, how devout was its feeling,
While hearing the lessons that Christ was revealing!
For Jesus all earthly concerns she forgot,
And all was repaid in that one happy lot…..
(“One Thing’s Needed”, Johann Schroder)
Lord, have we, the Bride of Christ in this land of plenty, stumbled into the streets of the world striving to do good deeds in our own strength and trusting in our own planning?
Have we, like sheep, gone astray?
Today, has a therapeutic, self-glorifying gospel seeped subtly into the sanctuary undermining, perverting and gutting the good news….the Gospel of Grace? Lord, are we, perhaps, trusting in our well-intentioned deeds of Christian service to fulfill us, cleanse us, and make us righteous in your sight? Have we adapted to and adopted the ways of the world1 to make us happy and whole?
Lord, do we love You, or do we love our efforts to please You more?
Have we fallen once again into the tempter’s snare?
Are we vainly striving to “love our neighbor” more in the spirit of Gomer than in the power of your Holy Spirit? Are we, indeed, revealing ourselves to be fence-straddling, closet Pharisees?
Have we left our first love?2
Father, where this is true to any degree in our lives, please forgive us. (Have mercy on us, Son of David!) We are blind beggars prone to wander! Lord, help us to identify and confess our hypocrisy.3 Help us, like Mary, to choose what is better.….the “one thing needed”.
“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)
We’ll Catch Up With You, Lord, Later
We’re the Church of Hustle-Bustle,
Programs for you left and right!
Come on in…We’ll entertain you,
Yes, until you see the light!
We’ve got Martha’s Marching Orders,
We try harder every day!
Busy bodies, to distraction….
Striving in our Merry Way!
Oh my, yes!...We’re motivated!
We’ve got Projects just for you…
Follow us and we will help you
Find your niche in “deeper do”.
We’ve no time, Lord, to behold you….
No, we’re simply blowing by.
We’ve got urgent tasks to finish…
Yes! Much bigger fish to fry!
So, with much determination,
We have duties to fulfill…
We’ve no time, Lord, to be wasting,
There’s no time to just be still!
We’ll catch up with You, Lord, later
When we’re done with this and that.
We’ve got chores and we’ve got deadlines….
When we’re done, perhaps we’ll chat.
Lord, forgive our wayward striving.
Teach us here now at your feet.
Guide us into sweet submission…
Then our trust in You complete.
Mold and shape us as we listen,
Living Word, come move the soul.
Take us to the Cross of Calv’ry…
There the Truth in us unfold.
“To sit at Jesus' feet implies faith as well as submission. Mary believed in what Jesus said, and, therefore, sat there to be taught by him. It is absolutely necessary that we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in his power as God and man, in his death as being expiatory, in his crucifixion as being a sacrifice for our sins. We must trust him for time and eternity, in all his relationships as Prophet, Priest, and King. We must rely on him; he must be our hope, our salvation, our all in all. This one thing is absolutely necessary: without it we are undone. A believing submission, and a submissive faith in Jesus we must have, or perish……
"You are very diligent in your religion, you are attentive to all its outward rites and ceremonies, you believe the articles of your church, you practice the ceremonies ordained by its rulers; but, but, do you know that all this is nothing, unless you sit at Jesus' feet?" we may do what the church tells us, and never do what Christ tells us, for these may be different things; and the church is not our Saviour, but Christ. We may believe what a certain creed tells us, but not believe what Jesus teaches; for our creed and Christ may be two very different things. Ay, and we may believe even what the Bible itself teaches to us, or think we believe it; but, if our heart has never made submission to the Teacher himself, so as to sit at his feet, and receive the truth obediently from him, our religion is altogether vain. Traditional religion is not submission to Christ, but to custom….. For us, there must be no spiritual law-giver, and no infallible Rabbi, but the Blessed One, whom Magdalene called "Rabboni," and whom Thomas saluted as, "My Lord and my God."
Therefore Thou alone, my Savior,
Shalt be All in all to me;
Search my heart and my behavior,
Root out all hypocrisy.
Restrain me from wandering on pathways unholy
And through all life's pilgrimage keep my heart lowly.
This one thing is needful, all others are vain.
(“One Thing’s Needed” , Johann Schroder, 1697)