Where Did Baby Jesus Go?
A few days after Christmas, I, like many women, took down my Christmas decorations. The next day my daughter ran into my room and asked, “Mommy, where is my baby Jesus?” (The Little Tikes ® nativity set.) I immediately replied, “Baby Jesus is in the garage. We will get him out next year.” Suddenly, the magnitude of that statement settled into my spirit.
The Christmas season is filled with news reports about the war on Christmas, and Christians are more aware and emboldened in their faith. Jesus, in the form of a nativity set, takes center stage in our homes, and we make an effort to point our children to the “real meaning of the season.” However, once Christmas is over and the decorations are put away, we tend to put Jesus back in the “garage” of our hearts. It is easy to forget about making Jesus the center focus of our lives, and soon we are back in a spiritual rut.
So, how can we keep our relationship with Jesus at the center of our lives and homes instead of restricting him to the “garage” of our hearts?
Make your relationship with Christ a priority. Mark 1:35 says, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” This verse amazes me! If Jesus, the God-Man, thought it was important to spend time seeking His Father, then how much more should we spend time with Him! Though Scripture often points to the importance of spending your first waking moments in prayer and Bible study, please do not get lost in the method of a quiet time with Jesus that you lose the importance of a relationship with Him.
God has blessed me and my husband with two daughters, who are 14 months apart. Before I had my first daughter, I was in the habit of waking up very early to spend those precious moments in prayer. However, after she was born, I often found myself up all hours of the night and then falling asleep whenever I would try to wake up at my usual time. For a season, my prayer and Bible study routine changed. I discovered that God was still just as ready to meet with me in the late morning, afternoon, or evening as He was in the early hours. God desires for His children seek Him, and He promises to be found by us (Jer 29: 12-13).
Make your relationship with the Church a priority. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 speak about the importance of being connected to the body of Christ, which is the Church. First Corinthians 12:12-31 suggests that every member of Christ’s body (Christians) should be an active and functioning part of the body. God did not bring us into a relationship with Him in order for us to function apart from the church. When life becomes busy, it is easy (and tempting) to stay home on Sundays and catch up on some needed rest. Or, we fill our time and schedules with priorities other than being involved in ministry with the people of God. However, God desires that we come together as the body to care for each other, suffer/mourn with each other, and rejoice with each other (1 Cor 12:25-26).
My husband is a college pastor, which means we get to minister to young adults whose schedules always seem stretched to the max. Inevitably, at some point in the year, we will have one of our students become so involved in other activities that he/she stops being involved in ministry relationships. We have discovered that one of the two following situations occurs: Either the student finds him/herself steeped in sinful habits, or he begins to feel so disconnected with the church body that it is difficult for him to come back. God designed us to desire community, and then He gave us brothers and sisters in Christ to help meet that desire. If you and I are going to have a life centered on Christ, then we must make our relationship with the Church a priority in our life.
Make your relationship with your community a priority. God has given each of us a specific sphere of influence and then equipped us to minister to those individuals. In Matthew 29:19-20 (the Great Commission), Jesus tells His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” He tells them to begin in their own town (Jerusalem), and then go to the ends of the earth. We are not to stop at just making Christ and the Church a priority, but we must also make our lost friends, family members, and co-workers a priority. God has placed you and me in a position to change the world around us with His love. However, when we become so inwardly focused that we miss the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs around us, then we miss the reason Jesus left us, His disciples, on the earth. Who needs you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them? Who needs you to tell them about the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? Who needs you to make them a priority through discipling them to become more devoted Christ followers? The world around us is in need, and Jesus has given us the answer…Himself.
My prayer for you is that this year would be a year of intense spiritual growth through seeking Christ, spending time with His Church, and ministering to your community. I also pray that we would not get to the Christmas season and realize that Jesus has been stuck in the garage instead of sitting at the center of our life. So, I ask you, “Where is your baby Jesus?”