As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Luke 10:38
We spend much of our life coming and going, busily rushing from one place to the next – the gym, coffee shop, grocery store, work – yet if we are honest, these are not the primary spaces in which our true selves are formed. These are not the places where intimate relationships are nurtured and strengthened. Intimacy is cultivated and celebrated in the privacy of a home. Though there are many lessons learned in the story of Martha and Mary, we cannot miss that it is a powerful testimony to what we might call “domestic spirituality.” The life of discipleship is lived with Jesus around the kitchen table and in the holy, ordinary rhythms of everyday life.
And yet, many of us are terrified of what awaits us in these intimate spaces. We don’t want to deal with our deep thoughts, with relational challenges, with what God might want to teach us and show us in that space, and so we avoid them and stick with the “safety” of the public space. We stay at the gym a little longer, work a few hours later, fill every open slot on our calendars so we stay active and busy and never have to deal with the big questions that lie just below the surface. I wonder, though, if we might be missing something profound that the Lord wants to do in each and every one of us?
Martha, though often (unfairly) maligned in this story, begins with a bold act of faithful discipleship: she invites Jesus into the intimacy of her home. Are we willing to do the same? It is easier to keep Jesus at a distance, observing his ministry as a bystander or assessing his teaching as a disengaged intellectual exercise. To invite him into your home is to invite his close scrutiny of your most personal and private spaces. It is to give him access to the parts of your life that we are tempted to hide and keep in the dark.
If we have ears to hear and eyes to see, in our intimate spaces the Lord seeks in love to offer tender words of compassion and redirection, as he did with Martha. Discipleship is not God simply seeing and affirming everything about us, leaving us just as we are. It most often includes God inviting us to bring our shame and sin into the light and allowing him to heal and restore us, setting us back on the path that leads to life. This is the gift of encountering Jesus in close and intimate ways. He draws near, not to shame us, but in kindness to lead, shepherd, and teach us.