There was a man catching a flight into New York. He was a marketing executive for a reputable firm that represented several sports teams. He was meeting with a high profile basketball player and his agent in regards to a prospective representation deal. He arrived well and prepared himself for the “pitch.”
He said everything he had to say. He prepared himself adequately. He dressed to impress. He freshened up. He even went as far as asking someone what this particular basketball player’s favorite lunch was, just so he could order it and have it served. The guy thought the meeting went well.
He flew back to California only to get the news that the player went with another firm. The marketing executive was baffled. He knew what he had to say. He gave the perfect sales pitch, showcasing everything his firm had to offer and how he was sure they would represent the basketball player’s best interest. He simply could not understand why they had rejected him. When he asked the basketball player’s agent, the response he received was simply.
“You and your firm did not take the time to get to know the basketball player. You met him and lavished him with things about you, only to leave not knowing anything about him. Your firm would certainly benefit from signing him, and while you want to represent him and his interests, you do not know a thing about them.”
While the story is fictitious, it brings out a reality about some of our relationships with God. We approach him knowing exactly what to say. Perhaps we put on our suits, whether literally dressing up to impress Him or figuratively dressing up to impress Him. We go to church and sing his praises. We fill our mouths with the work we want to do for Him. We go on Missions Trips, give to the needy, feed the poor, and visit the sick. We then walk away thinking that everything is perfect. We miss the most important thing.
The bible tells us of a story in which there were two sisters. One of the sisters was occupied and distracted, while the other one was attentive to the master.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NIV
This parable is often used as a demonstration of the ways we can get wrapped up with the things we are doing. Many have a misconception, even as it relates to doing the work of the Lord, in which they think the more they do the closer they are to what God wants them to accomplish in life.
Martha welcomed Jesus into the home. Perhaps she felt hurried and stressed at the sight of the master in her own home. It is even possible that there were customs when one had guests in their home. Martha was perhaps cleaning and getting things in order. Throughout the entire time, however, her sister, Mary, was at the feet of Jesus “listening to what He was saying.”
There is a sharp contrast between Martha and Mary. Martha was concerned with what ‘she’ had to do or bring to the table in regards to her relationship with Jesus. Mary was concerned with what Jesus was bringing to the table in her relationship with him. It was not about what ‘she’ was doing, but rather, about what Jesus was saying. By choosing this, Mary gained knowledge of who Jesus was because she listened to him.
How many times do we go on in life living like Martha? There is so much to do and so little time to do it in. Many of us pray for an additional number of hours in our days to accomplish more. Yet, when we look at our lives, how much time to we invest in knowing God? The knowledge we have of God is a combination of the mediocre pieces of information we put together ourselves from circumstances, experiences, and our lives. But are we taking the time to truly know who God is? Are we taking time to learn about him?
In Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, he writes that the church must essentially rip down our misconceptions of God. We must think rightly about God. Our current beliefs of God are subject to the fallen hearts we have. Many times our perception of God is based on what we “in our deep hearts conceive God to be.” With our sinful nature and sinful hearts, there is not much room for an adequate perception of God.
But that very misconception of God is where many Christians live and dwell. Our responses to the circumstances of life… our perception of God’s response to our shortcomings…. our thoughts regarding who God ‘truly’ is… It is all fallen. It is all inadequate.
The reality is that we can all afford to get to know God more. It is not enough for us to step into the meeting place and lay our “sales pitches” down. It is not enough for us to do what we think is necessary. It is not enough for us to try to impress him. We must do more. We must sometimes shut our mouths, and simply sit at his feet and listen to what He is saying.
When is the last time you simply received from Jesus? Even you pastor. Even you worship leader. Even you missionary. When will you stop “doing” and simply “receive” the truth that the father wants to speak to you?
My challenge to you this week is to prayerfully craft out time to receive from God. Whether it is listening, reading the scriptures, or other, it is a challenge to stop if even for a moment and receive. You may be surprised what God has to say to you, and even how incorrect our perceptions of Him are. Mary chose the right thing… this was to know him.