One Thing is Needful!
Those of this world canít possibly understand HIS. There is no effort we can undertake that will be successful in explaining light to him who is blind. Only seeing can cause the blind to understand a world full of color which is pouring into every crack and crevice around him. To the blind person, that world of light might well as not even exist. Likewise, the citizens of this world are so consumed and entangled with the affairs of this life that they canít possibly begin to understand what HIS world is all about. Try as we do, our explanations seem to always fall on deaf ears. They canít see what GOD has hidden. They canít know what GOD has withheld. The breadth, and length, and depth, and height of HIS kingdom transcends knowledge. Only HE can cause one to understand a four-dimensional world in a three dimensional existence.
These two worlds exist one within the other. One is a world which from above might resemble an anthill, with everyone scurrying about, each with loads too heavy to carry. But in HIS world there is a silent quest for understanding. There is an "endeavor with strenuous zeal" to enter with the few through the straight gate. There is the earnest desire and longing underway to know Him.
MATTHEW 16:24-26 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
To deny oneself simply means to set aside that which this world has told us is our own will, and to instead desire HIS. In other words, to deny oneself is to loose sight of oneís self and oneís own interests. But to follow Him is to seek, find, knock upon and enter through the narrow gate. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This is an alarming question for those who dedicate their lives and energies to chasing the carrot around the track (EPHESIANS 2:2).
This sharp contrast between these two different and opposing pursuits is seen in the following passage concerning two sisters, Martha and Mary.
LUKE 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he [Yeshua] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
One thing is needful! "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of GOD." That is the one "needful thing". That is the thing Mary chose while Martha concerned herself with making sure all the physical things were in place.
Those of this world are often like Martha, they are "careful and troubled about many things". They exert incredible amounts of time and energy building castles upon the sand, because too often the driving force in their lives is how others perceive them. The Marthas of this world find their fulfillment in the acceptance of their peers, exerting every effort to give the allusion that they are successful, that they have their act together, so to speak.
But the Marys of HIS world choose a different road. They have discovered a new and better way. They have chosen to leave the camp, to be no longer entangled with their yoke of bondage, but to sit at His feet; to be still and listen for that word of truth. Let the world whirl about us in disarray, we will rejoice to sit and hear HIS word.
Our journey revolves around getting to know Him, not accumulating as many possessions as we can stuff in our pockets. They too often bite and devour and are consumed by one another. We instead find ourselves being consumed with "rightly dividing the word of truth".
Conversations with the citizens of this world interest us little, because we have little common ground with them. We move in a world as foreign to them as they do to us. The highlight of their world is "Monday Night Football" or "Singles Night Out" or perhaps the next Church fund raiser. We seek to answer a much higher calling then these.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesian believers instructed them to be "no more children" and to us, their pursuits seem juvenile. These two worlds are as different as day and night. Ours is a world of Biblical Structures, and Numerics and Figures of Speech, things which they care little about. They seem to be motivated more with the latest gadgets and amusements then for the things we deem worthwhile of our time and energies.
The Marys and the Marthas just look at life differently. We gaze up at the stars and see HIS word written there, with each constellation telling the story of HIS eternal purpose. But the Marthas look up at the stars thinking they see "the final frontier", or else their weekly or daily forecast.
We greet each new day as "the day, which the Lord hath made" and are excited with what it might hold. They too often measure each day as it relates to the weekend; Mondays are awful, Wednesdays are the "hump day" and thank god itís Friday. We learn from scripture that observing days and months and times and years are "the weak and beggarly elements". They however are practically in bondage to these so called holidays (holy days). Their masters have convinced them that there is something special about a particular day. Even in our present society we see them rallying around days like New Years Day, or Independence Day, Valentines Day or even X-mas. Their masters must sell their party hats, or their fireworks, or their Carnations and the host of other things they craft.
I refrain from even calling X-mas Christmas because it has nothing whatever to do with Christ. The date upon which they observe is without a doubt wrong, for Christ was not born in the winter but in early fall, probably September (for further reading, see Why December 25th). They take advantage of His ultimate sacrifice as an opportunity to coerce consumers into buying gifts for each other. Any thinking person will readily admit that all which is entailed in the X-mass gift giving ritual has nothing whatever to do with honoring what Yeshua did two thousand years ago. Of course we see nothing wrong with friends and families gathering together and exchanging gifts, but let us not fool ourselves into thinking we are thereby honoring His sacrifice.
They sometimes claim that this holiday is to teach the children about the virtues of giving, but I wonder if it really is. Ask a child what he thinks about at X-mas time and he will invariably describe a fat man, who is riding in a sleigh through the sky, which is being pulled by magical reindeer. Children usually think about what they are conditioned to think about; they think of all the things that they have seen advertised on TV., just in time for the Season. And the reason for the Season? It has little to do with Him. This is all about their world, their profit margin, and their balance sheet. It is common knowledge that the X-mas Season either makes or breaks many businesses each year. The system is not so much concerned with giving, but it is primarily concerned with selling.
Those of this world are too often consumed with their portfolios and worry most about whether or not there is enough diversity in their assets. Still others among them search for their treasure in the lottery numbers, as if some mysterious force could be wooed into making them a winner and thereby solving all of their problems. We however, study the words of GOD and meditate upon them and find our treasure buried therein.
Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is. The pursuit of riches can get in the way of all that GOD wishes to teach us about HIS world. As our Lord testified, riches make it hard for anyone to enter through the narrow gate into HIS kingdom.
MARK 10:23-25 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel [a rope] to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
"And the disciples were astonished at his words". If one desires to be rich, then he most likely does not desire to enter into the kingdom of GOD. That astonishes many, for they canít imagine that there is anyone who doesnít desire to be rich. But wealth is only useful in their world. It has no place in HIS.
We endeavor to measure our success as the result of HIS grace and mercy, but those of this world too often measure their success in how much they have accumulated. They may look to their right and see their impoverished neighbor and are therefore thankful that they are better off then he is. But as they then look to their left and see their rich neighbor, they curse the ground and are now miserable from envy for their obvious misfortune. To them it often doesnít really matter how much they have, but rather how much they have in relation to others.
They too often strive for the meat that perishes, while we seek to abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain. They consider labor to be a curse and attempt to avoid it at any cost. We find fulfillment in our labor. Some of them think that a good job is one that is easy, easy money they call it. We think there is no job either good or bad. It is for whom you labor that matters, and as we labor for the LORD, HE is more than generous with how HE rewards us. Work to us is just another activity where GOD has an opportunity to teach us the secret of HIS ways.
Too many of them just do eye service to their employer, and when his back is turned then they think they are getting over by being slack. They have their reward. We, who work for the LORD, know HIS back is never turned. Sometimes they find comfort in a false sense of security by trusting in their uncertain riches. Our comfort is found in our mutual faith. They are content to climb the corporate ladder while we press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of GOD in Christ Jesus.
They are frantic in their attempts to preserve this vile body while we are promised new bodies. They know their days are numbered and each one seems to get shorter. We however, know that "when weíve been there ten thousand years, weíve no less days, to sing GODís praise, then when we first begun".
They find pleasure in back-biting and bickering and even rejoice in one anotherís failings. We seek rather to "cover over quietly" each otherís shortcomings and rejoice not in iniquity, but we rather rejoice in the truth. They boast about getting even with their enemies while we submit to our LORD who has proclaimed, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay".
In HIS kingdom, the rulers of this world have no power over us. As our Lord exclaimed to Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above". So it is with all that are citizens of HIS kingdom. This worldís laws and their courts are for their own citizens. We live by higher laws. Howbeit, we are still instructed to obey their laws and pray for their leaders, but this is not to make their world godly or Christian. Rather, it is to facilitate for us a "quiet and peaceable life". We should never become entangled with their affairs or their problems, and only with careful contemplation should we join with them in some endeavor. Let us rather be content to live how and where our LORD has placed us, and seek our own transformation, not this worlds.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
GOD over-rules all and if HE elects to allow some to have power to rule over us in some particular matter, so be it. We are then subject unto that authority. However, let us not be led astray to think that some earthly power is the source of our spiritual blessings. No Country or Corporate entity is GODís. HIS kingdom transcends all earthly kingdoms.
Of course we appreciate the blessings of liberty we enjoy in a free society and are awed by the courage of the Founding Fathers in committing their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to that end. But we are quite aware that what drives this Country today is the mighty dollar, not a pursuit of the truth.
We also know that Almighty GOD is quite able to accomplish HIS good and acceptable and perfect will regardless of the political climate. HE demonstrated this very aptly in the life of Daniel and others when they were all carried away as slaves into Babylon. Even there they lived a very prosperous and abundant life. Let the citizens of this world trust in their nationís military might to preserve their way of life. Let us trust instead in the LORD to preserve ours.
We wish they saw what we do. We find it hard to understand how they canít. We concur with Paul when he said, "I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds". But they canít seem to hear us. Their entrapments and entertainments seem to drown out our words.
We actually have the advantage of knowing both worlds, for we came from theirs and we know it all too well. We want to believe that if only they would consider, then they would see. But they wonít. Not unless GOD elects to open their eyes. Not unless they are willing to take GOD at HIS word. Until then, a great gulf separates the two of us, they on the one side and us on the distant shore.