The 1 Thing The World Craves That The Church Can Deliver

In a further conversation, Craig shares that one of the EMTs who rescued him kept asking him a question. It was a simple one: “Do you want to call your wife?” Over and over again, Craig said no. But later, Craig said he later asked that EMT why he kept wanting to know if Craig would like to call his wife. The EMT responded, “I didn't expect you to live more than another hour considering the extent of your injuries.”

Craig's story begs the question: What does a person do with an hour to live? If that was all you had left, one hour, what would be the most important thing?

The one thing. This new series that I'll be carrying through the summer months is going to tackle this all important question. It is based on a little book that came out in 2004 by the same title. One great thing about the 1 Thing is the simple, concise way they hang on to the 1 Thing, even when it so hard. Let me explain with one of their observations...

In the early 20th Century, trains owned the marketplace. But something new was in the works, the Wright Brothers were at work along with others and the birth of aviation began. Railroads had the opportunity to invest, to be part of this new vehicle. They didn't have time. They were running the railroads. They lost focus on the 1 Thing: their 1 Thing was transportation.

I always say that Mark is my favorite Gospel because it is the shortest. But I have come to love the Gospel of Luke because Luke always keeps my interest with his great stories of Jesus and his collection of Jesus' parables. One of those stories is the one where Luke takes us and sits us down in the home of Mary and Martha. And it is the one we'll come back to again and again when we forget the one thing.

Luke 10:38-42 NKJV Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. (39) And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. (40) But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." (41) And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. (42) But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Oh, Mary did it! The 1 Thing that is needed, Mary figured it out Jesus said! Could it be having a great knowledge of Jesus? How about a good heart? Is it serving Jesus? What about doing all the right things of Jesus' teaching? Or what about justice work?

Those are all good things for sure. But on further examination of the story and Jesus' teachings, I think they tend to come up just a bit short of the 1 thing. So before I dig in here, did you know that in a Gallup poll, 82% of the USA said they desire to grow spiritually? Pretty amazing isn't it? I was partly stunned by that finding mainly because I think this is a key to the 1 thing.

Luke doesn't give us any indication of what Jesus taught Mary. Martha's actions tend to raise concerns about what we do for Jesus being the 1 Thing. What we know about Mary is that she sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word. Stop and let that sink in for a minute. The consensus from different experts in the Bible, pastors and others has been worded different ways. I'm biased to John Wesley's words when he read the words,Mary hath chosen the good part - To save her soul. Reader, hast thou?” What others, including Wesley, are getting at is that Mary knew the 1 Thing and the 1 Thing was to be in relationship to Jesus Christ. Period. Bold face. Underline. Highlight. This is THE WAY to grow spiritually (church was even originally called “The Way” in the Book of Acts).

But hold on! Another Gallup poll, found that 2/3s of the USA don't think churches are effective at it. 66% of people don't think churches are effective at doing the one thing...that would include people in the church. Now think back to Craig. In his one hour, it wasn't enjoying perfect health. He didn't think of working harder for God, knowing his Bible better or knowing more about his denomination. Craig said, “I realize now [God] cares about your heart (21).”

To know Jesus is to not merely know things, not merely say things, not merely practice things, not merely sing things. No – it is to stop the doing. It is to take follow in Mary's path. It is to take this it here...on this stage...and consider (no, consider is not the best word but I like it), consider with our whole being the truth – that Jesus is here in our midst. Right here. Right now.

Some are going to say as the authors point out regarding one pastor, “I'm not sure it is just one thing.” There is plenty of knowledge and theology that can cause us to debate it and doubt it. And yet, the great Fathers and Mothers of the Church, going back 2,000 years echo – there is only 1 Thing – and that 1 Thing is our choice to sit with Jesus, to say, “Jesus, you are the 1 Thing.”

Note: This is part one of my series of the same title.  Looking forward to what God has in store!

For a further account of Craig's Story, watch this video...

 References from "The 1 Thing" by Thom and Joanni Schultz. Group Publishing. 2004.


Anonymous said...

82% of Americans desire spiritual growth and 66% believe churches aren't effective at delivering it...

I wonder what percentage of those folks nevertheless continue to rely on church exclusively as they strive in vain for spiritual growth?

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