What do you do if you are someone who is always on the go, always active, and you find yourself suddenly having to stop and do nothing? There have been a number of articles, videos, posts from sportsmen and women talking just about that during this covid-19 crisis. We have had opportunities to join in with various famous people in their five-minute exercise routines – or not as the case may be.
As Christians, and especially evangelical Christians, we easily fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our activity. We judge churches by what programmes, activities and services they have. We judge individuals’ spirituality by how committed they are to church-run outreach, or how many groups and committees they serve on.
Suddenly, with covid-19 all of these things have had to stop; almost from one day to the next. We find ourselves in enforced isolation, unable to do all the things we would normally do, be that work, shopping, or attending church and its activities. We may find ourselves asking why this has happened, but that may not be the most useful question at this time. The Lord may reveal to us the why at some later stage; but what we perhaps ought to be asking now is, what? What should I be doing in during this time.
I suggest that a story we could meditate on a little might be that of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. This is well known to us, but I am not sure that we really take the lesson to heart.
Jesus visits Mary and Martha’s home. Martha is the one who opens their house to him (:38) and immediately sets about something good and important – food preparation (:40). Mary, on the other hand, takes up the position of a disciple and sits at Jesus’ feet listening to what he said (:39).
Our ‘normal’ action would no doubt be that of Martha; running around doing important and good things because Jesus was there. That is what our Christian lives, and our church lives, are most often like. The pandemic has forced us to sit down. To stop running around and being distracted, worried and upset by many thangs (:40, 41). All we have to ask ourselves now, is whether we will use this time to simply sit, or will we sit at the feet of Jesus and hear what he has to say?
Simon Marshall is International Director of European Christian Mission International