Heavily Distracted

It’s a rainy Monday morning and I’m sitting here in the Franklin dining commons chugging on some, by now, very luke warm coffee. My breakfast tray sits fully furnished with an array of empty plates and I am now surrounded by people with pasta dishes and sandwiches. I arrived here about two hours ago to do some work and it seems lunch time has arrived…

I came here specifically to avoid distraction and quickly found out that a dining common isn’t the best place for that. In the last two hours I overheard conversations ranging from the difficulty of translating Chinese words into English, to reasons why our Student Government elections should be implemented online after the recent 12% student population voter turnout.

This weekend we spent time up in New Hampshire, although the extended rain storm drive would logically imply that we were in Montreal. We traveled up there with the MH Nights church plant where we would lead worship with or church band for a Christian conference at the elegant Camp Cody. Our beds were luxuriously complimented with mouse feces [end sarcasm].

The name of the retreat was “Undistracted” and through 3 different speakers, I was convicted on how great I am at distracting myself. We talked about how simple things that we do throughout our day can very easily distract us from what is important. But what is important? For many of us, these distractions aren’t distractions at all… they are an integral part of our day– our life, so to speak.

The scripture that we spent the weekend studying was in Luke 10:38-42:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But 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.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

What if Jesus showed up at your house, apartment, or dorm this afternoon? Many times we far too easily point the finger at Martha for not getting the picture but what we have to  understand is that most of us would have done the same exact thing. If Jesus were to show up in my dorm, I think I would make sure that it was tidy and try and provide some good yum yums for him and his  disciples. After all, that is what’s preached… hospitality. And who should we be MOST hospitable to than God himself, walking into our messy rooms?

But there’s a higher priority and Mary sees it. It is far more important for us to sit at Jesus’ feet and soak in his teaching. Our efforts to serve him, to make him feel at home, are in vain because what is more important than what we can offer to him is what he can offer to us.

Psalm 40:6 says this:

Sacrifice  and offering you have not desired,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offerings and sin offering you have no required.

How does a random woman’s choice apply to us? Many times we think that it’s what we do for God that is what’s counted. It’s an easy image for us to understand that when we stand at the gates of heaven we can say with full confidence, “Here, Jesus. This is a list of things I’ve done in my life. Now let me in por favor.” Fortunately for us, that’s not how it works.

Let me draw an example to put this image into perspective. Serving the poor and even preaching are two very noble things that we find Christians doing. But man, these two things mean nothing if they take the place of Christ in our lives. They are then just distractions– yes, preaching can be a distraction from God. When a pastor stands up there in the pulpit and believes in his heart, “This job, this sermon and the work I have put into it, justifies my existence as a Christian,” preaching has become a distraction.

Traditions of actions = religious distraction. In the words of my pastor Nate Cartel, “Religion kills. It kills you and the people around you.”

Are you being Martha in your life right now? Are you concerned too much about tradition and justifying your “christianess” in what you do? Or are you Mary? Are you sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him with a full understanding that He is everything you need and is more important than any sacrifice you can make for him?

A very wise preacher who leads a 1,000 person church in Manhattan, NY once said:  “There’s a huge difference between Christianity and other world religions. Not only do we as Christians want to repent of our sins, but also of good things we do for bad reasons.”

That’s a piece of what I got out of this weekend. If you’d like to chat about this idea of distraction, please feel free to e-mail me. I’d love to hear what you think.

God Bless

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