by Katy Lines
Just ask Annie and Will. And Amber and Todd, Tory and Amber. A new baby takes over everything. Parents focus their full attention on the newborn. The baby demands our time, especially our nighttimes. The baby demands our physical selves, as mothers who nurse know well. Babies are their parents’ top priority, especially in the early days of life. Life with a newborn is new and fascinating.
But eventually, the new baby begins to just fit in with family life. They begin sleeping through the night. Nursing times are spaced farther out. They walk. And start school. It’s not like they become wallpaper or background noise, but in healthy situations, the rhythm of the family is not centered on them; they fit in, but no longer dominate attention. They are part of family life, but others’ needs are also taken into consideration. That’s the ideal way a child matures, too: beloved and cared for, but not always the priority or center of attention anymore. A part of a parent’s life, but just a part. No longer the all-consuming focus of every thought and moment of her parent.
But I am afraid that that might be how we often receive Jesus and practice his ways, too. During Sunday worship, Jesus is what we focus on. In transcendent moments, he’s given our attention. But once we leave the building, or aren’t “doing church,” Jesus becomes merely one of many other things vying for our attention, focus, and time. We love him, but there are other things that drive us: guilt, significance, fear, etc.
That de-centering of a child is healthy for them and for family dynamics, but not so much for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Paul reminds the Colossian believers:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Col 3.1-4).
God is with us. Emmanuel. Joseph’s life was turned upside down by this baby. His life didn’t return to “normal.” Mary’s life was unalterably changed because of God’s Spirit consuming her. God delivers. Jesus. The one who turned their world upside down is still with us, showing us and being the way to—not just our liberation— but the salvation of all creation (Col. 1:20).
Unlike the healthy maturing of an infant from center to one segment of family life, followers of Jesus turn that transition upside down. As we mature, Jesus and his ways and desires move from the periphery of our life to becoming the very center of all our priorities and desires. All things are considered in light of Jesus.
Merry Christmas, beloved Englewoodians. May today be a joyful celebration for us all. But may we also, tomorrow and beyond, keep our eyes— our focus, our priorities— on the originator of faith, Jesus, God with us (Heb 12.2). May our lives reflect him; may our feet stay on the trail that he’s blazed. May our time be captivated by Jesus’ priorities. May our bodies be consumed by nourishing those Jesus fed. Like our fascination with our newborn babies, may our attention remain on Jesus.