For football fans, this weekend a fascinating event happens. It is known as the NFL Combine. It is where former college players essentially try out for every NFL team. They run a 40 yard dash, do a standing jump, bench press, and specific drills for their position in front of every team. Not to mention you get to take the WonderLick test, and go through a crazy interview process in which your life is dissected every possible way. You go through a physical that leaves nothing to the imagination. It truly is a grueling process for these guys. They do it all in hopes of hearing their name called at the NFL draft, and getting the shot at playing football at the highest level. In the days leading up to the Combine, owners, general managers, and the talking-heads of sports radio and television preview the top prospects, and breakdown what they believe each person can do at the NFL level. Every year, there is one prospect that passes the “eye” test, but is still talked about in a negative way. This year it is former Oklahoma quarterback, Kyler Murray. Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the baseball draft, and offered a contract. However, he turned it down for a chance to play in the NFL. The “eye” test of watching this man on film shows that he is an impressive quarterback. However, all the experts are not sold on him as being a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Maybe you are wondering, why? That is actually the reason of this post. Some experts are sold on him because….wait for it…..Kyler Murray is too short. Murray is between 5’9″ and 5’10”. The photo-typical quarterback the experts say is over 6′ tall. They aren’t knocking him for his on the field play. He has the arm strength, he came make all the throws, he has good vision downfield, and he has great escapability from the pocket when pressured. By the way, for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about football, those are all very good things. Those are things that you want your quarterback to be able to do. So instead of highlighting what he can do, they are knit-picking the one thing that Murray can’t control. You can add weight or lose weight, you can work on foot speed, and you can even work on arm strength. However, once you are done growing, that’s it, you are done growing. How in the world, does this relate to Christianity, and why would a pastor spend time talking about it?
I am talking about it, because I think a lot of times we as Christians and we as churches, focus on the wrong things. We focus on church growth strategies, we focus on branding and social media platforms, we focus on leadership conferences, etc. There is nothing wrong with having a desire to see a church grow, there isn’t anything wrong with using all available means to communicate the Gospel with the world, and there isn’t anything wrong with wanting to develop godly leaders. In fact, these are all good things. The problem is, because of our sin nature, sometimes we can take a good thing and make it a god-thing, which makes it a bad thing. Put another way, we can take something God meant for good, and turn it into an idol. There are a lot of Bible stories about this very thing. The one that immediately comes to mind though is the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to visit them in Luke 10.
Here is the scene, Jesus comes to Bethany which is just a few miles from Jerusalem. As Jesus goes into Mary and Martha’s house, we see two different priorities come to the surface in the women. Martha immediately springs into action. She want to be a good host. In today’s Christian vernacular, we would say that Martha has a servant’s heart (whatever that means). Mary on the other hand, goes and sits at the feet of Jesus. This frustrates Martha. Instead of saying something to Mary however, Martha directs her comment to Jesus. She says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Jesus’ response to her is this, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things: but one thing is needed (important): and Mary has chosen the good thing, which shall not be taken away from her.” Martha is worried about the wrong things, that is because she is focusing on a good thing, but not God. It’s not that Martha was doing anything wrong. In those days, it was the expectation and some would say the job of a woman to be a good hostess. Martha wanted to make sure the house was clean, that there was food to eat, and that her guest was comfortable. We do the exact same things today when guests come over. There is nothing wrong with it. Martha was doing a good thing, but she didn’t choose the best thing. Martha was more consumed with what she could do for Jesus, instead of being consumed with Jesus. Did Mary see that some things in the house probably needed to be straightened up? Did she know they were going to need to fix supper? Did she know that it was her job to make sure that her guest was comfortable? Absolutely she did. But to Mary, it was more important to spend time with Jesus. Sitting at Jesus’ feet communicated that Mary was submissive to Jesus, and that she wanted to learn from Him. Sitting at the feet of someone in those days was the place of a servant, and the place where a student would sit in relation to their teacher. In many ways, what Martha could do for Jesus had become an idol in her life. What matters is not what we do, but rather who we belong to. Service is part of the life of a disciple of Jesus. We are called and commanded to serve. However, it can’t take the place of spending time with Jesus. We must fight to make sure that our service doesn’t become our identity. Let’s make sure to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus, to worship Him, and to allow Him to direct us in what we should do.