Luke 10:38-42 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.”
Complicatedness brings cloudiness.
I was a woman on a mission. Pushing my cart down the aisles at Giant Supermarket, my eyes scanned the signs for where I could find pickles for an upcoming cookout. When I finally found them, my heart stopped. Vlasic. Mt. Olive. Heinz. McClure’s. Giant. Dill. Spicy. Gherkin. Sweet. Mini. Giant. Pickles of every brand, shape, size, slice, and seasoning stretched down 2/3 of the aisle. I stood overwhelmed by jars of pungent cucumbers. “What will people eat?!?” I finally just closed my eyes, grabbed two jars, and exited as quickly as possible. Since when did pickles become so complicated? Later, I stumbled upon some statistics: over the last 40 years, the average number of products in a supermarket has risen from under 9,000 to over 47,000. You’d think so many selections of pickles would be good, but statistics also show that 10% of people will become so confused, even paralyzed by the complicated pickle aisle that they will walk away without any kind of gherkins or dills at all. Complicatedness brings cloudiness—even to the point of making some people walk away from the very thing they’re looking for.
Sometimes people say that the story of Mary and Martha teaches that busyness (serving) is less important than listening to Jesus (study), but I think it’s more of a warning about making things unnecesarily complicated. Jesus rebukes Martha not because he’s against hospitality but because of how she’s complicated his visit. Martha’s issue is not what she is doing but rather what she is missing. She’s distracted and frustrated—but it’s of her own doing. And she's missing Jesus in the process.
It’s true—human beings love to complicate things that don’t need to be complicated. Relationships. Problems. Pickles. But also Jesus. We, like Martha, often hyper-focus on things that are secondary to Jesus’ message of hope, grace, and redemption. We can be distracted by brands (denominations), sources (prior experience), contents (doctrines), containers (local churches and activities), and seasoning (internal debates). But Jesus’ solution is simply to simplify what we ourselves have complicated. Focus on the One thing above all else; the Good News is simple, not complicated. An encounter with Christ is meant to be received, lived, and shared. When we lose sight of that, we miss the point. And often Him.
On Today's Road: What human-made structures, rules, or notions have been complicating your relationship with Jesus? What is distracting you from the mission Jesus has called you to?