Pastor’s viewpoint: Feb. 17, 2018
When I was in school, they told us food, water, and shelter are essential to life. In a harsh environment, snowing for example, you can survive three hours without shelter … longer in a normal environment. In a normal environment, you can survive three days without water and three weeks without food … although there are reports of people surviving 8-10 days without water.
But now, it’s getting harder to tell the difference between essentials and excess. What is essential for life? I remember a story from seminary about a problem translating the Bible in a place where there was no bread. They finally decided that saying “Jesus is the bread of life” was really saying “Jesus is essential to life.” So, they translated that line as “Jesus is the sweet potato of life,” because in that area, the sweet potato was their basic food. It was essential to life.
“As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42)
If you don’t know what’s essential and what’s excess, then you won’t know what to give up if you have to give something up. For the past 200 years and more, men and women were willing to leave home and family and travel to dangerous places where they were often asked to give up everything … including the essentials of food and water and shelter and even life itself to fight for what might be the one essential thing in our world … freedom!
Charles “Buddy” Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland & Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.