Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were all disciples of Jesus, people who loved and followed Jesus, opened their home to Him, shared their table with Jesus in fellowship and enjoyed Jesus’ friendship as well as lived by Jesus’ teaching. Each had their own unique relationship with the Lord, yet together, as a family, they displayed all the aspects of a church.
Especially the sisters, Martha and Mary, teach you and me about blessing God as a whole body of believers.
Studying the Bible, learning the doctrines of the Christian faith, do not make a person wise, or strong in the faith. In fact, wisdom is not about knowing. Wisdom is about using what you know. In spiritual terms, the wise person is the one who lives out the truths they know, not necessarily the Bible scholar and theologian.
This came home to me in a very particular way while I was reading Alan Hirsch’s seminal book, “ReJesus.” Among the many wise things in this book is the concept of balance between three areas of faith:
Orthodoxy—which is right principles, right thinking, guided by scripture.
Orthopathy— which is right passion, right feelings, the love and joy the Bible talks about.
Orthopraxy—which is right practice, doing good works.
Alan Hirsch pointed out that when these three elements become imbalanced, we notice!
The imbalance of orthopathy overemphasizes spiritual experiences, emotion-filled worship and prayer times that make faith and relationship with God feel like it is fading when those experiences are missing.
An imbalance of orthopathy downplays the importance of right thinking, Bible study, and the importance of right doing, the work of service, and of obedience to God. They may put a high value on love and joy, of spiritual ecstasy, but it doesn’t translate into a mature, lived-out faith.
The scales can tip in other directions, too. An imbalance of orthopraxy creates the burned-out do-gooder who has used all their energy in doing good deeds, serving others, sacrificing all, but without that sense of connection (orthopathy) to God’s love, grace, and power, and without applying scriptural wisdom to priorities and opportunities.
An imbalance of orthodoxy can drift into legalistic, rules and law-oriented faith, valuing doctrine over mystery, justice over mercy, law over love, being right over being gracious. Judgmentalism edges out orthopathy and orthopraxy, forgetting Jesus’ table was open to everyone in fellowship.
We might say Martha brought in the importance of right doing in her service to the Lord, and in right thinking as Jesus’ developed her faith in knowing the truth about His divinity.
Now enter Mary, who said few words, but whose passion and practice made a deep and lasting impact on Jesus’ heart and our understanding of discipleship.
We see her first sitting at the feet of Jesus, then kneeling at His feet, and finally anointing his feet.
I Sitting at Jesus’ Feet, Luke 10:38–42
II Kneeling at Jesus’ Feet, John 11:1–46
III Anointing Jesus’ Feet, Matthew 26:6–13, Mark 14:3–9, John 12:1-8
Each video is designed to offer background scholarship on the topic, including setting, culture, original language, and archaeology, as well as a theological study.
The “Broken, Searching, Trusted, Powerful” series is a companion to the book, available on Amazon, and published by Wipf and Stock.