“But I want to do everything!” This was a student’s response when my wife questioned the wisdom of her very busy schedule. College students, in particular, have a very difficult time curtailing their commitments. Even if they are feeling stressed and anxious about all they have to do, they still often want to commit to even more because they’re afraid of missing out.
Those feelings dissipate for most of us as we grow older, but I’m sure none of us feel any less busy. There are always things clamoring for our attention, whether it be work responsibilities, family demands, the chores of home ownership, or hobbies. All seem to demand our attention. And herein lies the danger for those of us who seek to follow in the steps of Jesus.
If he is Lord, then our number one priority in life, ahead of all others, is to be devoted to him, to his Kingdom, to his Word. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”(NIV)
However, our Christian culture has it backwards. Most of us throw our lot in with Martha (Luke 10:38-42). We focus our attention on the here and now and what needs to be done. But note that the Lord commends Mary for her choice to focus on the him instead. Now obviously, the Lord is not implying that we stop doing everything we’re doing, sit down, and just read the Scriptures and pray all day. We don’t see this in the early Church. Yet, we do see that they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42) We are also told they met daily. It seems it was along similar lines that Jesus commended Mary—She was devoted to him, while Martha allowed the responsibilities of hospitality to command all of her attention.
The most common and overused excuse we Americans use for not spending more time with the Lord or with fellow believers is that we are too busy. On campus, I hear this repeatedly from students who are Christians and who grew up in Christian homes. It begs the question: what were they taught about being devoted to the Lord? How was that modeled for them. Likely, the evidence shows, it looked more like Martha’s life than Mary’s, or the early Christians.
If you are reading this as a parent of young children or as an aspiring parent, realize that how you live your life as a follower of Jesus will hugely impact your children. If you seek first the kingdom, then your children are more likely to follow in your footsteps. If you are devoted to the things of the Lord, then they likely will be, too. However, if you live your life overwhelmed by your responsibilities and focused primarily on them, then that is what your children will do, and they will join the ranks or Christian college students who do the same. They may do a lot of religious things, but they likely won’t be devoted to the Lord.
Campus ministries, as well as local churches, desperately need people who are devoted to the Lord, not merely participants in ministry programs. It is out of devotion to the Lord that comes our witness to the world. It is out of devotion that sets us apart from our non-Christian peers and neighbors. It is out of devotion that comes spiritual power for revival, healing, and transformative ministry. These things do not happen when the Lord is way down our list of priorities.
Devotion to the Lord for today’s Christian is the same as it was for those in the 1stCentury. Like we, they had families, jobs, and other responsibilities. Yet, they prioritized the Lord first. I believe they found ways to make time for the things of the Kingdom. They had the same 24 hours per day that we have. If something is a priority,
we usually find a way to make time for it. I think Martha could have found a way to still be hospitable and spend quality time with Jesus. Perhaps she was trying to impress him too much with an extravagant meal when a simple one would do.
The bottom line for us who follow Jesus is that we are commanded to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and trust the Lord to provide time for everything else. The only way to do demonstrate this is to carve out more time in our hearts, minds, and schedules to devote to him.
© Jim Musser 2019