You don’t have to look very far to see that the world is changing. Even in my few years I have seen the world get faster, more complicated and stressful. One interesting statistic is that during my lifetime the average size of houses have doubled. Is this because families are much larger today? On the contrary, families are smaller. Is it because we are richer? Certainly.
But I think that this reflects something in our lifestyles that is not healthy. It shows how cluttered our lives have become that we need such large homes to contain it all. We don’t just need a place to sleep, a place to eat and a place to socialise. We need a place to work on the computer, a place to watch the TV, a place to play games, rooms to hold all our clothes, several places to primp and preen ourselves, a retreat where we can escape from the children, a place where they can escape us.
What this shows is how many things we dedicate our lives to. When we devote a room to something it tells us how important it is to us. But how many of all these things are really important? Why do we feel the need to escape from our children? Why do we devote so much space and time to our appearance? Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying we ought to be ascetics. But let’s think about what our houses say about us and our priorities. So much of what we do, even legitimate things, are not that important.
Martha struggled with this too (Luke 10:38-42). When Jesus came to visit she wanted to serve him—a noble thing to do. Perhaps though, she wanted to make a good impression, put on a good show with her cooking, make everything just so. Wouldn’t we all, especially if Jesus was coming over. Wouldn’t we straighten the pictures, pull all the weeds, polish all the furniture, tidy every room?
How did Jesus react? “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Jesus is that one thing. All our houses, all our possessions, all our obsessions mean nothing unless they help to bring us back to that one thing. Too often they do the opposite. Our houses will go out of fashion and fall apart, our belongings will come and go, our appearances will fade and be forgotten. But Jesus, that one thing, will not be taken away from us.