“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, But few things are needed - indeed only one." Luke 10. 41-42
Why do we humans make everything so complicated? As soon as anyone has a good idea it becomes a tradition or it gets fenced around with legal stipulations. Then it grows arms and legs, generating obligations and consuming resources. Before we know it, there's another addition on our pile of must-haves and to-dos.
When Jesus called on his friends in Bethany. Martha wanted to make a big deal of his visit. Her motives were commendable but they distracted her from what was most important. In his teaching Jesus came up against the same tendency - to obscure the priorities of life with countless lesser concerns, some of which may have been generated by good intentions while others were undoubtedly not.
The institutional churches in Scotland today find ourselves in a similar bind. Our message is direct and urgent: we are accountable to God, who alone can forgive our sins and make sense of life and he has made himself accessible through Jesus, who calls us to follow him by the power of the Holy Spirit. That message can be summarised in two words: meaning and direction. Yet we are so trammelled by the complexity of our structures and our mentality of dependence on being spoon-fed, that we are trapped in terminal decline rather than out there spreading the good news and making disciples.
How has God made sense of your life and what does he require of you in response?