One Thing Needful
by Susan F. Campbell
As we read inspiring records of Jesus’ life, we see that they are much more than the history of a glorious career which lasted for a short time. Practical examples of solving problems common to all mankind may be found in them. He worked out swiftly and with precision every problem which came to his attention. As a mathematician applies the rules of mathematics, he applied the law of divine Principle, God, and invariably reached a correct solution of the problem at hand.
We read in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus at one time came to a certain village, where Martha hospitably received him into her home. Mary, her sister, sat at Jesus’ feet, drinking in the spiritual truths which he taught, while Martha, “cumbered about much serving,” finally blurted out these words: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” Jesus was able to discern Martha’s thought, which not only put materiality first, but would have Mary do the same. His answer, ringing down the centuries, has caused many a person to pause: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
How burdened with much serving humanity seems to be! How unwilling to put first things first and to sit at the feet of the Christ! How the carnal mind argues for its so-called rights! How arrogantly it tries to induce those of us who want to be spiritually minded into being “careful and troubled about many things”! Spiritualization of thought is the way of healing in Christian Science, through which mankind is delivered from the bondage of false thinking and its tragic results.
People are apt to imagine that surroundings, occupation, or personal possessions have within themselves happiness, health, and success, but this is not so. Mary and Martha had the same environment, the difference was in their states of consciousness. Jesus simply said, and in his saying was a challenge for all mankind, “Mary hath chosen that good part.” It was a question of choice: Mary had chosen to think in spiritual terms, her consciousness being receptive to the truth, while Martha was still thinking materially.
How simple the experiences of everyday life will be to those who, leaving the standards of the world, gladly choose the one thing that is needful! Mrs. Eddy has written in Science and Health, “Custom, education, and fashion form the transient standards of mortals.” Let those who have named the name of Christ not cling to the standards of mortals, but rather, let them go by, while laying hold of real things with a firmer grasp.
Jesus was not dominated by matter, nor by the devices of the five physical senses. He loved the beautiful and orderly manifestations of nature, the flowers, the birds, and the mountains; and he used them symbolically to point out his grand lessons. He was treading the way of light, and there was no room in this narrow way for the earth weights: he placed all value on real things, the things of Spirit. How lightly he walked the waves! And how lightly he passed through the shut doors after resurrection! Could he have done this, had he been burdened with material treasures?
We have learned through Mrs. Eddy’s teachings, that there is no true joy to be gotten out of materiality, however alluringly it may be presented. In our hearts we know that material thinking, as Mrs. Eddy puts it, “is dreaming away the hours,” and that our happiness, success, and usefulness depend upon our understanding and demonstration of the spiritual nature of man, and of man’s relationship to God.
Our aim is to work out our problems with the absolute certainty which Jesus possessed. We begin by learning given rules and applying them to these problems; and as we are successful in getting results for ourselves, we are able to help others.