In the movie City Slickers the cowboy Curley professed to know the secret of life. “It is one thing,” he said to Mitch, the city slicker, who wanted to know “What’s the one thing?”
The pluralistic answer in the movie—“it’s whatever you want it to be”—sounds intelligent but is bankrupt. Someone looking for real answers, true answers, finds no help with it.
Whereas pluralism is thought to be “progressive,” it is as old as recorded history. In the period of the Judges (around 1500 B.C.), the Bible says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
Pluralism is pervasive especially around issues of wealth and lifestyle; there is no “right” way, no ultimate authority. If we are underwater on our mortgage, no problem—do a short sale. Marrying someone of lesser means? Secular wisdom promotes the prenuptial agreement. Can’t afford the baby? Get an abortion.
Without a real answer to Mitch’s question, we end up with where we are today—in a mess. Everyone is doing what is right in his or her own eyes. The way forward is for the Church—the community of faith (i.e. those who know better) to make a stand of undivided loyalty and wholehearted devotion to Jesus Christ.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” Psalm 86:11.
Though he could not provide the answer to Mitch’s question, Curley was on to something. “One thing” means more than merely “focusing.” It has to do with loyalty.
The writer of Psalm 86 was King David, and it is interesting that he sought the gift of an undivided heart; it was not something solely within himself to produce. But David wanted to be entirely loyal to God. If he did not write Psalm 119, he no doubt would have claimed verse 20: “My soul is crushed with longing after Thy ordinances at all times.”
And yet, David also longed for an undivided heart, and he knew the answer would come from God Himself.
One True Answer
Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that these people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” 1 Kings 18:37.
About three hundred years after King David, Elijah asked a divided people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” The people did not answer him a word (1 Kings 18:21). So Elijah pleaded with God to show Himself to a people who desperately needed Him, but did not know it. When Elijah prayed, fire from heaven burned the sacrifice.
God has answered and His name is Jesus. What is our response?
“...only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” Luke10:42.
In the story of Mary and Martha, let’s be clear about the preparations—they were important. Jesus was God incarnate, and He was visiting their house. Hospitality was taken very seriously (see Gen. 18:1-8). On top of this, Martha applied familial pressure which can be overwhelming at times.
Wholehearted devotion requires two decisions: one to follow Christ and the other to forsake all other things. The situational facts of Mary and Martha’s story bring additional weight to Mary’s choice. What looked to Martha like a convenient way to take a break was actually a tenacious stand taken for Christ.
How about ourselves? If we have decided to follow Christ, have we forsaken all other things? Where is God leading us to make a stand? Does it show in our calendar and our checkbook?
Doing it Right
If you or your church group would like to help the low-income elderly but do not know how, please see Resource Service Ministries. This wonderful nonprofit organization leads teams to take care of the needs of people who need it most. Find them at www.rsmin.org.