This was originally written in 2011. I thought at that point that I would never pastor a church again.
Some Sunday morning rumination or rambling or whatever …
There is still that feeling of pain deep in my heart. Perhaps it is disappointment in myself, thinking that I should have been able to grit my teeth and “tough it out”. Maybe it is the predictability and structure that I miss? Maybe it has nothing to do with missing anything at the church house?
Sometimes I wonder if I am a disappointment to God in all this.
I think that it is more than that. It is the sadness that believes that the church that I gave my life to, doesn’t really want Jesus. They want to be an efficient, well-organized, growing organization, that does some God things.
They want to talk about Jesus.
They want to study Jesus.
They want to have programs that are about Him.
And they love to sing about Jesus but can’t agree on what kind of music He likes best … and sometimes they fight about Jesus.
But they don’t love Jesus enough to really love people who offend their sense of self-righteousness. That’s largely because they haven’t allowed themselves to be sufficiently loved by a Jesus who is an offense to their sense of self-righteousness.
I’m sad because the church that I have become intimately familiar with would rather just be “Martha-busy” than “Mary-awed”. Not that there is anything wrong with working hard. But being busy with the wrong things is of no value and being busy representing the Jesus we don’t know to a world that doesn’t know him either … that’s just idiocy.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42 NIV84)
“Martha-Stewart” Martha was the epitome of house keepers and event planners. There was much to “do” to honor Jesus. Everything had to be just right for Jesus’ visit.
Mary, on the other hand might have been a better help if they were having a VIP to entertain. She never thought of Him as anything but family.
Jesus was just that to Martha and her intentions were excellent. But Jesus never wanted to be treated like a VIP … and He still doesn’t.
He doesn’t want fanfare.
Fanfare means nothing and no one knows that better than Jesus. Hands that waved palm branches before Him would be clenched in fists within days. Lips that sang Him “Hosanna” would curse Him and call for His crucifixion.
I don’t think that He cares about well choreographed, scripted, carefully rehearsed performances and stage shows. The harder we work at getting ready for Jesus, the greater the likelihood that He will come and go a stranger.
I’m not suggesting that there are no Mary’s in the church house. I am saying that there are not nearly enough. The Mary’s don’t call the cadence.
They don’t want to.
They feel no obligation to turn Martha’s into Mary clones. They just want to enjoy Jesus, even if the house is not as presentable as it could be. The house is far less important to them than Jesus is.
But the “Martha Stewart” church house is always a better place for people to visit. They come and go. They enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. Mary’s home doesn’t garner the ratings or attract the crowds … not like Martha’s.
And if Jesus couldn’t visit both sisters in the same house, he would likely find himself much more often “at home” with Mary.
I might be able to tolerate the structure if Mary were the housekeeper.
But I can never go back to Martha’s place again.
I had an aunt who was like Martha and Dad would force us to visit. It wasn’t a fun place for kids. I hated going there. It was immaculate. I remember one day, sitting in the kitchen in a straight, stiff-backed chair. I briefly leaned my head back against the wall. She barked at me … “don’t lean your head against the wall … you’ll leave a stain.”
I felt dirty, … condemned. I couldn’t relax.
Every visit was a showcase experience. But I could hardly wait to leave and get home, where things were not nearly as nice. But at home, no one seemed overly worried about head marks on the wall paper … truthfully, I had never noticed one.
I am sure by now that you can write your own ending to this all-too-familiar story.