Living like Jesus publicly starts with living like Him privately. Living like Jesus publicly (the joy, the peace, the miracles, the things he did when people we’re watching), starts by living like him when no one is watching. What did he do in private?
What makes people great in what they do? Are they born or are they made? I think they are made. If you look at any great athlete or public figure, they didn’t get there by accident. It’s the early mornings, the extra practices, the pain, the discipline, the behind the scenes hard work when no one was watching that make them a joy to watch. That’s what makes people truly great.
Craig Groeschel put it this way, “It is things that no one sees that results in what everyone wants.” It’s the things that you do not see that produces the things that you do see. Living like Jesus publicly starts with us living like him privately.
So how did he teach us to live when no one was looking? Jesus taught us that we must get away and get alone with God. Before and above all else, Jesus practiced solitude.
I know you’re thinking, “That’s all you got for me?” But think about it. When we look at Jesus’ life we don’t really know what hobbies he had. Was he a gardener? Did he like NASCAR? We don’t know. We don’t know what kind of house he grew up in. Was it big or small? We don’t know what kind of clothes he wore. Was he more into the Galilean slacks or straight cut Jerusalem jeans? We don’t know. We don’t know how much money he had saved up, if any at all.
But here’s something that is unmistakable. Three and a half years of public ministry recorded in four gospels there is one behavior that happened time after time in the life of Jesus Christ. He habitually and consistently called a time out in the chaos of his life and he got away where no one was and spent time alone with God. Do you?
Living like Jesus publicly starts with living like him privately. Luke 5:16, “But Jesus often [not seldom or occasionally but often] withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” What does that look like? What does that really mean to practice solitude? It seems like an ancient ritual that a monk would do. Maybe you’re new to the faith and you’re wondering, “Do I have to bring a ten pound Bible?” Let me just back up and say, “It’s different for different people.”
I’ve known people who take a long walk with God. They don’t do it so much for the physical exercise, though that helps, but they get alone and pray and listen and talk to God while they walk. And that is their moment to be with God alone for a half hour. I only do that when I’m frustrated with something and that helps immensely. Most of the time my wife and I like to write. We get alone and reflect and read the Word and then write to God or what we hear God saying to us. I’ve kept a Daily Quiet Time journal now for 15 years. Some people just sit in silence and listen. They get out in nature and get a good view from their house and just sit, look, observe, and then when all is quiet in their soul, they talk to God and begin listening to him. It’s in moments like those, different for different people where God pours his heart into ours.
Jesus didn’t model that behavior with his words, but with his life, the discipline of solitude. And if the Son of God needed to get away consistently with God how much more do we who are not him?
So what do we do? How do we do this? We must make time with God a priority. If you don’t know the last time you spent time with God and I’m not talking about squeezing five minutes out before dinner or checking the clock, but I’m talking about dedicated, silent, devoted, still time with God? If you can’t remember the last time you did that, it’s not a priority in your life. Let’s just admit it. Be honest. How many of you would say this is an area that you don’t do very well?
I hope you know how important this is. The author of the universe invites us to spend one on one time with him. What else is more important? If we truly want to follow Jesus and be his disciple and imitate him then we have to start here. We start by making it a priority. It simply could be scheduling it. Putting it on your calendar.
Look what Jesus did in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morn., while it was still dark, Jesus got up [not hit the snooze bar 3 times], left the house and went off to a solitary place [why? Because he didn’t want to be bothered. He wanted to be alone, just him and the Father. And it’s in that place], where he prayed.”
We live in a culture consumed with busy-ness. We live in a culture that creates industries to aid us in our busy-ness and chaos. Think about it. We have cell phone and computer manufacturers that make our phones and computers talk to each other. They share information without us having to do anything. Why? It saves us time. We don’t have to enter in things twice. Very cool. Our Twitter syncs to our Facebook so we don’t have to update our status twice. Why? Because we’re so busy and it saves us time. A lot of people bank online to save time. All of this productivity and efficiency but when does our spirit have time to sync to God? If it’s not a priority in your life and you’re not having that moment syncing with God, I can guarantee you that you are spiritually anemic. I promise you. You can’t know the heart of the father until you’re with the Father by making time with him a priority. Make it a priority.
The second thought is super simple. We must intentionally eliminate distractions. Luke 5:16, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places.” Why on earth did he go to lonely places? Why doesn’t it just say that he went to the mall and did some people watching? Why did he go to lonely places? Because it was quiet there! Because there were no distractions. Because life was not going to suck him in.
Every single time Jesus got away the Scriptures say that the people were looking for him. Every single time. People who were sick. People Jesus could heal with one touch. That’s important stuff! He only had three and a half years to do his ministry and yet even when the crowds were looking for him and needed him, Jesus said “I have to eliminate distractions. I have to get away. I have to connect with the Father.”