KEY THOT: While Martha was “distracted with much serving” (v.40), her sister Mary quietly “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching”. Martha was focused on welcome (“Martha welcomed him”) and works (“serving”) whereas Mary was focused on worship (“sat at the Lord’s feet”) and the word (“listened to his teaching”). Here we have all the typical 4W’s of a home group meeting: Welcome, Worship, Word and Works. In terms of priority, Jesus said Mary had done what is “necessary” which is actually the “good portion” (ESV) or “what is better” (NIV). It’s not so much that welcome and works (hospitality) are not good, but in the hierarchy of goodness, Worship and Word trump Welcome and Works. The four categories can be reduced into two main ones: building intimacy with God (through worship and word) and building fellowship with one another (through welcome and works). In Christian gatherings, we can get ourselves so busy with human activities that we miss the whole point of our coming together, viz., Jesus: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Jesus is not saying that welcome and works are not good, but rather the whole focus of Christian gathering is spending time with Jesus through worship and word, not just spending time with our CG mates in welcome and works (hospitality). While hospitality is a good thing, it is not indispensable compared to worship and word. The focus of our gathering should not be the human guests but the Divine Guest (Jesus) in our midst. While it’s great to have fun and food as a kind of social icebreaking, they are not ends but means. They help to promote a sense of social bonding and human fellowship, but they cannot replace intimacy with Jesus. Intimacy with Jesus can only come by sitting at Jesus’ feet in worship and listening to His teaching in the study of His Word.
If we are unwilling to host a care group meeting in our home because we are afraid of “all the preparations that had to be made” (v.40, NIV), we are missing the point of care group meeting. When we host a care group meeting in our home, we are not just hosting our care group members—we are hosting Jesus who comes among us. And it’s a privilege, not a chore.
Father, deliver us from over-preoccupation with human activity and human need and neglect You in our meetings. May cultivating our intimacy with You be always the reason we gather in Your name. Amen.