Calming Our Distracted Minds

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Every now and again, I find myself reaching down to check my cell phone when the phone has not actually rung. I call this the “Phantom Vibrate” and each time it happens, I am reminded of my need to become less addicted to my smartphone. It is so easy to get lost in this fast moving, constantly connected culture that we live in. I love the ability to reach down and receive a phone call, a text, an email, a Tweet, a Facebook message, a blog post comment, a friend’s activity notification or any other number of things but sometimes it can simply be too much! And while I believe that Jesus loves the fact that the Gospel can be spread electronically and that His people can be so readily connected, I am convinced as I look back at Jesus’ message to Martha in this passage that he does not want us to live such distracted lives.

This passage of Scripture is often used to talk about the importance of spending time with the Lord instead of simply serving the Lord. I have heard or read many commentators say that Martha did that which was “good” by serving the Lord but Mary did what was “best” by sitting Jesus’ feet. And while there is certainly truth to that interpretation, I believe that beyond that, Jesus is also reminding Martha that she needs to slow down the constant buzzing/ distractions going on in her head.

Martha’s actions were good; in fact one could argue that considering she had Jesus coming to her house, she was doing what she was supposed to be doing by providing for her guest. It is not her actions that Jesus rebuked, saying to Martha, “You are worried and troubled about many things.” Jesus points out that her life is fragmented and filled with distractions. Look at the text again- after Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to come help, he doesn’t say, “Martha, put down the broom and come sit at my feet because this is more important.” He instead points out to Martha that “you are anxious and troubled about many things.” It is her worry and troubled mind that Jesus is concerned about. I’d suggest that even if Martha had stopped and gone to sit with Jesus, she still would have been distracted and unable to concentrate on the matter at hand. Jesus did not scold Martha merely for serving, but he pointed out her distracted mind. With her mind racing it didn’t matter what her actions were; Jesus reminds us that if our minds aren’t focused on Him, our actions are fruitless.

The warning that Martha received should resonate with us as well. We must be ever vigilant to ensure that we live with our hearts and minds focused on our Creator and the purpose that we’ve been given instead of the many and constant distractions that come our way. Let’s collectively decide that every once in a while we’ll put away our phones and spend dedicated time strictly with our Savior. Instead of waking up and reaching for the phone to check to see what messages came in during the night, we must strive to get back to a place where we can wake up singing like the old saints: “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.”

 

Timothy L. Jones affectionately known as “PT” is Senior Pastor at Community Baptist Church in New Haven, CT. A native of Richmond, VA, he played basketball at Amherst College while majoring in Psychology. He received his Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in 2009 with a specialization in Multicultural Theology. PT is currently pursuing his PH.D. at Boston University in Practical Theology with a focus on homiletics and the building of multiethnic community. He is joined in life and ministry by his wife Nelly and his children Sofia Esperanza and Ezekiel Levi.

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