One of the passages of the Scriptures which has been used and abused to support a dualistic, world-flight spirituality is the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Mary is commended for choosing the “better part” in sitting at the feet of Jesus, while Martha is rebuked for caring about her many household tasks. This has been seen as a contrast between a contemplative, listening, “spiritual” attitude on the part of Mary, and an activist, bustling, “worldly” attitude on the part of Martha.
But is that a legitimate way to understand the passage? I think not.
Here I present a study of various ways this passage has been interpreted throughout history, and draw on the various insights from these approaches to present an approach which I think is more well-rounded and focused on the message of Jesus, not on the contrast between two different sisters.
This study is accompanied by a sermon on the passage which seeks to present the fruit of this study for the church.