We have all had moments when pressured to conform. Maybe our group of friends seems to have a political viewpoint that we don’t agree. Yet we keep quiet, conform, so we don’t risk losing their friendship. Maybe we belong to an organization that has altered its goals which were too much of a change. We conform because we don’t want to be left on the outside looking in. We all have known a time when pressured to conform.
The story of Mary and Martha seems on the surface to be about Martha working too hard and Mary preferring to listen to Jesus’ words. Mary comes out on top receiving support from Jesus. However, there is more going on than merely overworking or resting.
Martha was doing nothing wrong being a good hostess. She had invited Jesus into her home. Hospitality was the cultural expectation in those days. Martha was fulfilling the cultural demands required of her. Mary wasn’t helping with the hostess work. Martha may have also been calling Mary into conformity.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. Women did not sit at the feet of a teacher. Men sat at the feet of a teacher. Men would later pass on the information they wished to share. Mary violated the cultural boundaries for gender of her time. You know what? Jesus preferred Mary’s perspective. There would be plenty of time for Martha to fulfill her hostess duties. There are times when a person needs to step outside of cultural demands to hear what Jesus has to say. What we learn from him won’t be taken away from us.
We have all had times when pressured to conform to culture. The topic list is huge from race to immigration, religion, politics, how to spend money, what to eat, gender roles, etc. Yet if we want to listen to what Jesus has to say we need to be at times like Mary, a non-conformist. We need to cross the boundary lines so we can listen. What we learn will never be taken away from us. We have Christ and the kingdom.