Someone once said, “The secret of praying is praying in secret.” I find this statement deeply profound and relevant for Christians living in a fast paced world with hectic schedules. Work is essential. Doing much is good, but the “good” can become the enemy of the best. The idea of doing a devotion in the morning and rushing off to work has become increasingly popular among evangelical Christians.
Spurgeon once said that rushing off to work without spending time in God`s presence is as foolish as rushing off to a battlefield without wearing an armor. Going to early morning prayer meetings at a specific time and specific place, at a certain location on a particular day has become the norm for many Christians. We know how to do things collectively as a Christian community; however it appears that many have not learnt to walk with God alone; the kind of devotion that permeates all of life by having Christ at the center of our affections.
This is not to poineer the idea of individualism. Being an "individualist" and being pragmatic is already evident and predominant in our cultures. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that "when God calls a man; he bids him come and die." This runs parallel with what Jesus said: "If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."
There is a cost for discipleship which obliterates any room for individualism. The self is denied; thus denying individualism. This denial only takes place when a person comes to Jesus beholding Him "as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God" (2 Cor.3:18).
# Lessons from the Home of Martha and Mary :
Luke 10: 38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha,"the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
# Mary sat at Jesus` feet listening to his Word whereas Martha was busy serving. Our relationship with Christ precedes our ministry activities. The self is lost only when Christ is the focus. Our affections must be deeply rooted in Christ. Being in Him precedes doing for Him. Hearing from Him and keeping our relationship flowing with Him is crucial for ministry. More often than not, doing "many things" like Martha distracts us from hearing His voice (v.40). Distraction often breeds judgmental attitudes. It breeds stress that results in insecurity. Our attempt to do "many things" for God without the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit leads us to worries and troubles. (V.41) The question must always be asked, "God are you into this?"
The "one thing" needful for effective ministry is to cultivate a healthy relationship with Jesus by setting our affections firmly on Him.(V.42) The moment we begin to neglect the "Word," we begin to experience a spiritual decline. We become stressed mentally,physically and spiritually the moment we neglect our relationship with the Lord and stop hearing from His word. The regenerated soul of man has the capacity to hear the voice of the One that redeemed him. Therefore let us press on to know Him that we might not grow dull in our hearing.
Few points to ponder:-
* Our fellowship and relationship with Jesus matters to God more than our ministry.
* When we hear from God resulting in our obedient actions; we are in effect setting an example, a model, a paradigm for others to follow.
* Therefore ministry should be the result of our overflowing relationship with God. For in Him we live, we move and have our being!