Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8
Churches can get so caught up in society’s issues that we miss our real task. If we spend all out time focused on social issues then we are going to take time away from the spread of the Gospel. Churches really got caught up in trying to do this in the 60’s and 70’s when the Social Gospel movement caught on with both protestant and Catholic churches. They were going to make things right, get rid or poverty and level the economic playing field. All worth goals except for one important fact, they can never be accomplished.
Today we see how three people reacted to Jesus when He was staying in Bethany with Lazarus and his sisters. First there is Martha. She is busy serving and doing things. In fact Martha is so busy she misses out on spending time with Jesus. In fact in Luke 10:40 we see Martha getting upset with her sister for not helping her. Like Martha we can get too busy to spend time with Jesus.
Next we have Judas. He is concerned with the money Mary has spent on the perfume she is using to anoint Jesus’ feet. Now John is skeptical of Judas’ motives and writes that Judas most likely wants to steal the money once it in the collective purse. Still Judas make a point, wouldn’t the money have been better spent on the poor. Many Christians would probable agree with Judas on helping the poor. Jesus rebukes Judas when He tells Judas the poor will always be there but they only had a short time with Jesus.
Finally, we see Mary. Mary has her priorities right. She spends the time she has with Jesus listening to Him and worshiping Him. She is serving Jesus while all around her are worried about other things. Churches are like people in that they get off on tangents. When we go off on missions to end poverty or we become so intent on doing things we lose sight of who we are to serve.
As Christians out main task is to spread the Gospel to all the world. This has to be job number one. Yes we should help the poor, but we will never end poverty, Jesus tells us so. Yes we should serve others, Jesus tells us to be servants. But is serving our main goal is the spread the Gospel. How sad it would be to lift someone out of poverty and yet forget their eternal destination. If that happens we have done irreparable damage rather than help.
Have a blessed day,