Faith Matters September 2023
There are many rallying calls wanting to grab our attention, stir our emotions and move us to action or at least to express our support. In recent years this has included movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too and Pride (LGBTQ). Then there is climate change, human rights, animal rights, human trafficking and immigration concerns. We are assailed by voices encouraging and even commanding us to listen and act. Under such pressure it is hardly surprising that so many of us struggle with mental health issues -stress, anxiety and depression. For many, God is squeezed to the periphery, hardly seeming relevant except in times of utter desperation.
In the Gospel of John we read of three siblings who were close friends of Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The friendship probably started when Martha invited Jesus into the family home, offering him hospitality and a temporary base for his work. Of the two sisters, Martha was a doer, being busy-busy around the home and getting frustrated that her sister Mary took a more measured approach by prioritising what she should give her energies to. While Martha was getting hot and bothered in the kitchen, Mary was in the sitting-room listening to Jesus speaking about the one, true God and his purpose for men and women in general and her own life in particular.
Aware of the domestic strain Jesus said, ‘Martha, Martha, 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.’
Like Mary, we should not feel pressured into giving our energies to every claim made upon us. As a Christian, I would say that the one exception is the call of Jesus, the call to give him our heart and soul’s allegiance; he has our best interests at heart. That doesn’t mean us abandoning the needs of the world but Jesus, knowing our limited capacities, can make us more whole and therefore effective.
How may we listen to the rallying call of Jesus? We can pray directly to him, we can hear his words by reading the Gospels and we can find a church which prioritises biblical teaching about who Jesus is and why he came. When we do perceive him speaking to us, let’s listen well and not harden our hearts but welcome him in.