What Defines What?

Tonight in our Bible Study group, we were talking about trying to achieve a balance between Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)–the balance between being and doing–because, let’s face it, it is a finely tuned balancing act.  We have things to do; we can’t just sit around all day, every day, in our attempts to simply be.  But all our doing doesn’t mean much if we can’t learn to really be–be present, be with God, be who we’re designed to be, be.

Here’s what really got the discussion going: “At what point do I keep doing whatever it is, like reading the Bible every single day, when I no longer want to.  I mean, I pray for desire, but it’s just not there, so these things–daily devotions, morning prayer time, spiritual meditation–have kind of become obligations.  Where’s the balance between doing and desire?”

For me, although I falter still, achieving balance is a result of determining what defines what.  Is it the internal witness of the Holy Spirit through the grace of Jesus that defines my relationship with God or is it all the things I do in the name of God that defines my relationship of faith?  If I take the externals away–daily devotions, Christian music, monthly MOPS, church attendance, communion team, Scripture reader once a month, etc.–does my relationship with God waver and falter?  If so, then I’m basing my life of faith on what I do rather than on what God already accomplished for me through Christ’s death on the cross.

Don’t get me wrong, doing is important.  The story of Mary and Martha shows this; yes, it does.  You see, Martha had a house to run and people to feed.  Jesus didn’t tell her to abandon these things.  Never mind the fact that Jesus did turn a meager fish and chips basket into a meal fit to feed 5,000+, the meal Martha was preparing wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere; someone had some cooking and serving to do, that’s why Martha wanted Mary to pitch in.  I don’t believe for one moment that that fact was lost to Jesus.  Instead, Jesus admonishes Martha to get her priorities rearranged.  She was so busy serving Jesus (and the presumed others) that she wasn’t even reveling in the relationship(s).  Jesus, in essence, asked her to take a look at what was defining what–was her serving defining her relationship or was her relationship defining her serving?

In seeking balance I find the balance beam a perfect tool of personal and practical evaluation.  Each step of the balance beam requires a re-shifting and re-gaining of equilibrium.  It’s not the beam itself that aids the walker in achieving steadiness and uprightness; instead, it’s his/her internal sense of balance that allows the individual the ability to walk, step after step, from one end to the other without falling.

It’s the internal compass that guides the external course.  (Not the other way around.)

How do you find yourself walking your balance beam of life?  What’s defining your life and faith and relationship with God?  What is your internal compass telling you about where you’re going and how you’re doing?  Take the externals away(the Christian extracurriculars)–are you still upright and heading forward or do you lose your balance and footing?

May Christ define your life and may you find yourself in blessed balance.

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