Choosing what is better
Are we too often drawn into bickering and controversy when we should be, like Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet?
A few years before I was born, a young priest on the South Side of Chicago wrote a hymn based on John 13:35. We occasionally still sing it at my church but I sometimes wonder how true the words are of the global Church these days: We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. …And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Most days, a quick scan of my Facebook news feed will make me either sigh or cringe. Though most of my Christian friends and the ministries I follow post uplifting messages, there are always a few who are knee-deep in a debate or all-out verbal war. Pick your poison: same-sex marriage, abortion, gun control, Bible translations, modesty, ecumenism, worship styles, women in ministry, false teachers or the half-dozen subjects you likely just thought of while reading my list. Where do we find the time?
Bob Goff, author of Love Does, has said, “When it’s more important to win arguments than love people, we need to start all over again with our faith.” Indeed, the only thing more important than loving people is loving God. Jesus told the Pharisees that the greatest commandments were to “love the Lord your God…” and to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38). Six chapters later, we find the practical application to these commandments: “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).
While we bicker, Christians in other parts of the world face persecution or death for professing faith in Jesus. Others champion the cause of Christ without drawing attention to themselves.
This summer and last, I spent three weeks in Armenia. The passion evangelicals have there for sharing their faith—under difficult circumstances—astounds me.
The elderly mother-in-law of a missionary we support sits at her front window day in, day out, offering Christian literature to passers-by. Like the New Testament widow who gave her last penny, this dear soul is giving to God what she has left of her time and strength.
A young woman with physical challenges that hold her back in many ways devotes every waking moment to sharing tracts and Bibles and serving others. We know at least three families who travel for hours from village to village and home to home to teach the Bible and disciple new believers.
I’m not saying this type of commitment isn’t seen in North America but, sadly, we are too easily distracted—often by seemingly worthwhile causes—from doing what is of utmost importance. When Martha tried to pick a fight with her sister for not helping her serve their guests, Jesus gently reminded her that “few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Martha, bless her, had good intentions. But Mary had chosen “what is better”: sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening.
I hope you’ll journey with me in the coming months as I devote this column to exploring the joy that comes from faithfully following Jesus.
Ann-Margret Hovsepian lives in Montreal where she writes full-time and is active in women’s ministry, evangelism and missions. Her third devotional book for tween girls, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, hits stores this October. Visit www.annhovsepian.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/ann.hovsepian.author.
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