Ever started looking online for something only to realize – much later – that you don’t even remember why you started looking? This happens to me all the time.
Especially on Facebook. Just the other day I was planning on looking at a friend’s profile before I emailed him so that I could genuinely take an interest in his life. But 15 minutes later I found myself looking at some random link about an emotionally-stunted iguana trying to find his birth mom. (OK, that last part might be embellished, but you know what I mean.)
The point is that it’s so easy to get distracted. When that happens online here and there, it’s no big deal. But when we consistently lose sight of Jesus, it is. In my last post, we talked about 5 clear symptoms that we’ve become distracted and veered off course.
But you didn’t think I was going to leave you languishing in despair for another week, did you? (Smile with me. You feel better already, don’t you?)
It’s great to recognize the signs that we’ve lost sight of Jesus, but it’s even more important to learn how we can keep him at the center of all that we do. That’s what this post is all about.
4 Ways We Can Stay Focused On Jesus
We’ll continue with Luke 10:38-42 from last time. Here it is for easy reference.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Here are some quick, but important, takeaways we can apply to our lives today.
- Jesus sees our failures but is incredibly patient anyway. ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled with many things…’ Jesus could have called Martha out and compared her to Mary, but he’s gentle with her failures. We can trust him to be gentle with ours, too.
- Jesus points us back to what matters most: Him. In verse 39, we read that ‘Mary… sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching’. As Martha ran around like a crazy woman, Mary enjoyed slow, unrushed, undistracted time with Jesus. This was the one ‘necessary’ thing (42) for Mary – and us. Although we can’t see Jesus, he really is with us through the Holy Spirit. And although we can enjoy time with him in heavy traffic or while we’re changing a diaper (possible stretch there), we need regular time where we’re just focused on him. No internet, no kids, no schoolwork, no… nothing.
- Jesus invites us to delight in him. It’s good to understand, on an intellectual basis, that Jesus is ‘necessary’. But Mary had to come to delight in Jesus, to actually enjoy him. Mary knew that Jesus was ‘the good portion’, ‘the right meal’ as one commentator puts it. Think with me about your favorite foods. Is it just an intellectual exercise for you? I hope not! No, a good meal is a sensory experience that engages all of you, right? And it’s not a duty, but a delight. We need to ask Jesus to change our hearts so that, like a great meal, over time he becomes more delicious. As that happens, we’ll find it easier to sit down and spend time with him.
- Jesus wants us to choose him. Even though Mary had come to enjoy Jesus, notice that spending time with him was still a choice. She had ‘chosen the good portion’ (Jesus). She had to say ‘not now’ to the easier, more obviously productive options in front of her like cooking and cleaning. Quality time with Jesus will require us to make the same sort of sacrifices. For example, this morning I had to pry myself away from reading articles about the Eagles and their recent (and ridiculous) loss to the Falcons. What do you need to defer so that you can choose Jesus?
This passage offers us two ways to live. Life Number One isn’t bad. It’s full of busy, productive preoccupation with good things, but hasn’t set aside space for Jesus. Life Number Two is still productive, but is centered around Jesus because he is necessary and beautiful.
I pray that, over time, God gives us grace to live lives that are increasingly focused on him.
Let’s live it out: Which of the 4 principles above would most help you focus more on Jesus? How could you practically begin to live it out in your own life?