The other day I was having a conversation with one of my friends who happens to not be a Christian. It’s not uncommon for us to discuss spiritual things but something dawned on me in this time in particular. That our conversations can sometimes become more of a discussion about Christian tradition and practices and not really discuss much about Jesus at all. And in most cases, when we do discuss Jesus it tends to lean on the side of talking about Jesus instead speaking of Him.
Meaning that Jesus has far to often become an after thought or at times not even a part of the conversation.
One of my biggest frustrations today with the state of Christianity is this exact thing. It’s become far more about our theology, our denomination, our practices, etc. and we’ve forgotten about Jesus. Jesus is metaphorically standing outside the windows of our churches, looking in, and wondering what we’re focusing so intently on.
No wonder so many get frustrated with their experiences with Christianity. No wonder we sometimes get nothing out of going to church. No wonder we can find it to be of little, to no benefit at all.
I am a firm believer that the church needs to learn what it is to simplify our beliefs and go back to the basics. Since when did Christianity become about anything more than simply Jesus? What would the church look like if Jesus was truly at the center of it all?
In the Gospel that Luke wrote, we find a story about a woman named Mary. Who, in my personal opinion, had the right perspective about Jesus:
As Mary’s sister, Martha, spent hours preparing a meal she started to get frustrated. She couldn’t stand the fact that she was doing what she was “supposed to be doing” according to their customs, while Mary lazily sat with Jesus and had a conversation. Finally, Martha erupted in her frustration asking Jesus, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me with all this work to do?” Jesus’ reply was profound and kind of shocking, “You care too much about things that don’t really matter at all. Your sister has it figured out.” (See more in Luke 38-42).
Jesus isn’t saying not to cook food and be hospitable. He isn’t saying to throw our responsibilities out the window. He was referring to what was going on in Martha’s heart. She thought that the right thing to do was to work to please Jesus. But Mary knew the only thing that truly pleases Jesus is when we are with him.
At times, we focus so much on things that don’t matter. We try to get right before we come to church. We think the liturgy has to be perfect. We think all of these unimportant things need to get done in order to have peace and be accepted by God. And Jesus’ response to us is the same, “Stop caring too much about things that don’t really matter. Just spend time with me.”
I believe we need to seriously consider what Jesus is implying here. We need to consider how much time, energy and effort we put into things that don’t matter. If what we are doing doesn’t help us connect with Jesus, I believe it isn’t what God intended for us to be doing as his people. We must learn to simplify our faith practices and stick with the basics—simply Jesus.