Our ideas about how God calls us to serve others, no matter how well intended, keep us from the fullest relationship with God. Recall the story of Mary and Martha, where Martha is scolded for attempting to serve Jesus a meal while her sister sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to him. It may seem to us that Martha was fulfilling her vocation by being a good servant. But Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
Jesus’ apparent indictment of Martha’s vocation as servant is surprising, since in another context he chastises “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink” (Matthew 25:42). We would be missing the point of Jesus’ words to Martha if we took them to mean that we should entirely give up our calling to serve others. But when our dreams and goals in life become so important that they overshadow our relationship to God, it may be time to take a break and sit at the feet of Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t provide easy answers about what we should hold onto and what we should give up. Nevertheless, God calls us to evaluate prayerfully (and with Scripture) the ways in which our earthly attachments might help or hinder our faith lives.
This message is adapted from “Faith reflections: Holding on or letting go” written by Elizabeth Palmer that first appeared in the September 2014 issue of Café magazine.