Verse to Remember: “You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me.” — Leviticus 23:3a (CEV)
Question to Consider: What do you need to work on to get your schedule and priorities in step with God’s rhythm?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 36 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community, including thoughts on Mary, Martha, shame, service, and purpose — especially the relation between external activity and inner transformation.
However, I do think there are some larger issues at stake. As Tim Hansel says, “when I relax I feel guilty.” There is a sort of shame that comes form inactivity, a feeling of ‘copping out’ from the human race. Many of us have an inner Martha that screams, “Why aren’t you helping?” It is still hard for me — despite having read this passage for decades — to believe the inner work of sitting at Jesus feet is more important than the outer work of preparing for company. Especially this week, when my parents are coming to visit: is it more important to have a quiet time than to clean the house?
In a word: yes! Now, that doesn’t mean I can just place “my alone time” ahead of social obligations. The only thing that takes priority is being with Jesus. And Jesus knows us well enough that he’ll let us know what truly needs to be done. But, what I’m getting from this passage is that the purpose of His visit is so Mary can experience His presence. If our preparations prevent that, we may have fulfilled our social obligations but we’ve missed the point — that is, Jesus himself.
It gets back to the idea of community. Community is a central part of God’s purpose for us as Christians. The outward forms are intended to support the inward reality, not displace it. Ultimately, I need to be focused on God’s purposes for myself and my family, and understand how to sensitively nurture those through acts of service, without allowing those acts to hinder the very thing they’re supposed to achieve.
Prayer: God, I confess that I really don’t understand what it means to worship you. I know you want more than just perfect attendance at your house. You want a heart that worships at your altar, not at the altar of service, social acceptability, or shame. You want a life that is totally oriented and you and your purposes, and is willing to let got of everything in order to receive that from you. You want acts of service that naturally flow out of a vital relationship with you, not just logical surmise or local custom (as useful as that may sometimes be). You want us to be whole people who serve a whole God, not just fragments. Father, goad me with the reminder of the Sabbath, that I do not become complacent in my busyness, but seek you always. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.