38Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
Working the Land
Many of us have rose gardens that we groom and cultivate to offer our best roses to God. We nurture and work the land. We go to great lengths to make sure the roses that we offer up are the best of the bunch. We prune, shear, and inspect every rose to make sure there are no thorns or worn out petals and we believe that the roses we offer are the true picture of surrender. This narrative is a familiar passage to many, but a difficult pill to swallow for all of us. Here Jesus calls us to a place of true surrender. Many of us believe that what God wants is all of our dirt and filth, shame and guilt, pride and selfishness. That is absolutely true; Jesus calls us to a holy surrender. When we think of repentance we often think of the major sin patterns of our lives. We go through periods of repentance when our lives spiral out of control or when we feel debilitating guilt. But this passage is challenging for a different reason.
Lord, Do You Not Care?
When we read this passage, we relate to Martha. Jesus comes into her home and all she wants to do is prepare a meal worthy of Jesus’ visit. But it’s in her response that we can truly relate –“Lord, do you not care?” It’s a question we ask ourselves over and over. The reason this passage is so difficult, is that Jesus doesn’t just call us to holy surrender, but to wholly surrender. True surrender is not just offering up our filth for God to clean. True surrender is coming to grips and having the heart to know that even our best efforts are littered with sin. Whether it’s our jobs or school, relationships or social currency, we all try hard to keep up with appearances. We make a hard pressed effort to make sure our good deeds outweigh our bad. In this story, everything that Martha does is good, socially acceptable, and seemingly right. But what is it that Jesus means when He says that Mary chose the good portion? Jesus is saying that all of your good works mean nothing if you don’t truly understand who it is that you are doing them for. Are your good works a true surrender to a Savior, or are they just another item on a checklist of good things you use to bargain with God?
True surrender is offering up all your being, in submission to the will of the Father. On the cross, Jesus surrendered His entire being. He not only holy surrendered, offering up His sinless life for sinful people, but He surrendered wholly, offering up His body and spirit, completely submissive to the Father. True surrender is not making sure our roses don’t have thorns or worn petals. True surrender comes when we realize that God doesn’t just want our roses. He doesn’t even want the weeds we pull out to make sure the roses grow well. True surrender is realizing that God calls us to offer and surrender the garden – roses and weeds alike, he wants it all.