One Thing is Necessary! Stop busying yourself with everything else.

by jacobjuncker

Genesis 1:26-31, Common English Bible (emphasis added)

26Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”

 27 God created humanity 
in God’s own image, 
      in the divine image God created them,
         male and female God created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. 30 To all wildlife, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. 31 God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.

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Luke 10:38-42, Common English Bible (emphasis added)

38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”

41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

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How does the way we live our lives show what we really think is necessary?

I wonder what it would be like if we were visited by aliens–intelligent beings unfamiliar with our human way of life–who were interested in learning about human beings.  What would this alien see?  He would surely conclude that humans are busy creatures who pursue an infinite number of things.  He might fairly assert we were created to pursue these things to satisfy our many desires with pleasure, or riches, or fame, or power.

Can you imagine how surprised the alien would be to hear the Creator say, without distinction, Only “one thing is necessary.”   I can imagine how confused the alien might be to know that the only thing humanity needs is none of those things with which we so vainly pursue.  All our busy work–the work that consumes fills our hearts and employs our hands–is not necessary.  It does not get us where we need to go or give us what we need.

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So what is necessary?

The one thing we need is the renewal of our broken lives to our original state.  Humanity was created in the very image of God.  We were originally, by nature, perfect, angelic and divine.  We were a crystal clear picture of our Creator.  Every part of our being from head to toe, inside and out, bore the stamp of our Creator.  But our brokeness (sin) has hidden the stamp and scarred the image of God within us.  Our souls, far from being divine, are now earthly and sensual.  The image is cracked.  We are consumed by our passions and desires.  And like a child who eats too much candy, we’ve made ourselves sick.

We are, in the eyes of God, sick–full of self-afflicted diseases, wounds, and putrefying sores.  Every one of our brute passions and base desires, every kind of sensuality, pride, selfishness, is one of those deadly ailments which corrupts and hides the image of God found in each and every one of us.

To recover our perfect, angelic and divine state is the only thing we need to worry about.  Our one goal in life should be to be born, created anew after the image and likeness of our Creator (God).  It should be our one goal to overcome our sickness–to abandon every passion and desire that does not suit our divine nature.  The one work we have to do is to have our diseases cured and our wounds healed.

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Let us consider a few of the many reasons which prove that this is the only necessary thing: so necessary that it is to be pursued at all times and in all places, not neglecting our worldly affairs, but making them all work toward this one goal: restoring the image of God within.

  1. How wonderful it would be if we would all be healed and recover the image of God within ourselves.  We were created to enjoy God’s image within ourselves, others and in God!  Humanity was created to love.  As Scripture reminds us, our greatest call in life is to ” love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).  Love is the very image of God.  Through love humanity is not only made like God, but is in some sense one with God. “No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us” (1 John 4:12) and “the one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:17).  Love is perfect freedom.  As there is no fear, or pain, so there is no constraint in love.  Whoever acts in love alone, is free to do whatever she wants.  Her thoughts are free and her actions follow the will of her mind in pursuit of his love.  All her actions, when acting solely in love, are the result of her free choice.  All she wishes to do, she does, and that alone.  Love is the health of the soul.  Through love–both the giving and receiving–the soul is made complete.  Through love, we are able to enjoy God’s image within ourselves, others and in God.  Since we were created to this end, the recovery of our ability to love–which provides health to the soul–is the one thing now necessary.
  2. The rehabilitation of the soul–the image of God within us–is the point of God’s presence with us.  All that Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection was for this one purpose.  All the miracles described in Scripture and documented today are done to help heal and restore us to our original state.  Jesus’ words attest to this fact: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.  He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed…” (Luke 4:18).  Christ lived so that every infirmity of our soul might be healed.  He died in order that those who live in the bondage of bad decisions might be made free.  It was in pursuit of this very goal that God gave us the Law.  The purpose of the Law is health, liberty and perfection or to say it simply: self-less love.  The entire Law centers upon this one thing: our renewal in the love of God (demanding what is necessary for our health and forbidding all unhealthy things).  Therefore since the health of our soul–recovering the image of God within us–is the one end of our salvation and creation, it is the only thing necessary for us today!
  3. Restoring the image of God within us is the one necessary thing, because it is the chief end of all that God wills in the world.  Pleasure and pain, health and sickness, riches and poverty, fame and shame, friends and enemies, are all allowed by God’s perfect wisdom and goodness with a view to this one end.  All that God wills for our lives are designed either to wean us from that which scars or feeds us with that which nourishes God’s image within us.  Pleasing situations are meant to lift up our hearts to the God of all Good.  Painful situations are meant to root out those passions that forcibly hold us back from God.  Every material loss reminds us, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21)!  Every painful situation cries aloud, ” Don’t love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15a).  And in every joy we are reminded, “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
  4. The influence of the Holy Spirit in each person’s life is pointed to this one necessary end.  Whether the Spirit gives us joy or sorrow of heart, whether the Holy Spirit inspires us or allows us to sink into a numbness of soul, all are meant to help restore us to health, liberty and holiness.  They are all meant to cure those self-inflicted wounds and diseases of self-love and worldliness.  In every way the Holy Spirit’s direction is meant to help us recover the health of our soul–the restoration of the image of God within.

Therefore, the renewal of our nature in God’s love being not only the one end of our creation and our redemption, but also of all that God does, must be, as the eternal wisdom of God has declared, the one necessary thing.

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Why do we busy ourselves with worldly pursuits? when God has declared that only one thing is necessary?  Is the entertainment of the senses the one necessary thing?  or the gratifying of our imagination with rare, or great, or beautiful objects?  Is it to get fame, power, reputation or privilege?  Is the one necessary thing to gain an advanced education and knowledge?  God says, NO!

While all these things may sound great, they are not the one necessary thing.  Stop busying yourself with trying to make yourself better by the world’s standards and direct all your attention toward recovering the image wherein you were created: in the very image of God.  For this alone is our one calling in life.  For this alone we were created.  For this alone Christ lived, died and was resurrected.  For this alone is the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and oversight.  Only one thing is necessary, to press on toward the prize of our high calling; to emerge out of chains, diseases, death, into liberty, health and eternal life!

We would do well to make this our sole concern.  We must direct all that we are and do to this one end that we might be partakers of the divine nature.  May we then work to be made perfectly whole and healthy such that the image of God might shine brightly within us so that we might be found faithful on the day of Christ’s return.

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, adoration and worship, both now and for ever.  Amen.

This sermon is a redaction and adaptation of John Wesley’s sermon, “The One Thing Needful,” preached in 1734.  This sermon is adapted from the sermon as published in Reclaiming the Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2007).  All Scripture quoted in the sermon is from the Common English Bible (accessed at biblegateway.com)
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