March 19, 2008

Mary or Martha?

2008 1508 page31 capfter eight years of being tucked away in cradle roll Sabbath school, my son and youngest child graduated to the kindergarten class and I was finally set free! It was a big Sabbath for us as a family. We left him in his room and told him we’d pick him up afterward, and without making a scene, we left.

It was pretty exciting because my husband and I were finally attending the young adult Sabbath school class together for the first time since our oldest child was born eight years ago. I am especially thrilled to still be able to qualify (age-wise) for the class while I have a couple of years left in that category. Technically my husband should be booted out, but attendance is kind of low at the moment.
Having to have been concerned only with the cradle roll lesson for so many years, admittedly I am out of practice with keeping up with the adult study. Sometimes parenthood can really do a number on your spiritual life.
2008 1508 page31But back to the class. The discussion that day for me involved more listening than contributing—which I was pretty happy with, honestly. The quarter’s theme is discipleship, and I recall we spent some time talking about what it means to be a disciple in today’s world. Are we required to cast our worldly goods aside, forsaking car payments, mortgages, vacations, and tuition bills to take up the work of the Lord, or is our aim to follow Christ in heart, word, and character sufficient?
In the midst of friendly banter back and forth, this guy blurted out, “Are we Marys or Marthas?” He clarified by asking if we consider ourselves true disciples by busily going about the work of God even if we don’t really understand His character, or is it better to literally sit at the feet of the Lord and take Him in? Do we even get who God is?
And there it was . . . the reason why Sabbath school classes are a good thing. They make you think.
And so I thought, Am I a Martha? Do I think that because I write for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and edit a publication that helps (hopefully) kids to choose Jesus that I am a true disciple? Or should I be leaning more toward the way of Mary—focusing more time drinking in the character of Jesus, getting to know Him better, and incorporating His truth and wisdom into every facet of my life?
Mary and Martha had their hearts in the right places. But if we’re talking about their examples as approaches to discipleship, I feel that you can’t be one without the other. And the order that makes the most sense to me is Mary first, Martha second. If you aren’t intimately familiar with the Savior you serve and can’t be content just to be near Him, can you truly follow Him?
At some point personal faith is useless if it never crosses the border into the realm of the way you live your life. Discipleship for Peter, Mark, Matthew, and the others was about much more than traversing the Judean countryside with their Master. And as the Bible stories tell, some of them got it, while some of them didn’t.
Christ’s simple command in the book of John helps to clarify for me how best I can follow Him and call myself His disciple (which is something I really am trying to be). “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34, 35).
Seems pretty simple and gives us an insight into understanding what Jesus is all about. You follow Him by knowing Him. He is love and He commands us to share that love with others first. If I don’t take the time to understand that and in essence, Him, how can I effectively accomplish His mission in my life? How can any of us?
Who are you? A Mary or a Martha?
Wilona Karimabadi edits and markets KidsView, Adventist Review’s magazine for children. She is thrilled to finally be able to go to the big kids’ Sabbath school class.