While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
Now more than ever, our world offers the illusion that we can be fully present in more than one place at a time. But it’s just that—an illusion. You know how I know? Because we’re not God and even when God himself came to earth in human form, he traded in his godly omnipresence for the human unipresence you and I experience today.
Like us today, Jesus had to deal with frequent distractions that competed for his attention. A man threw himself at Jesus’s feet as he was walking (see Mark 10:17). A woman touched his cloak, distracting Jesus with the knowledge that he had healed her (see Mark 5:27-30). One time, a man literally dropped through the roof over Jesus’s head as he was preaching (see Luke 5:17-20).
There were times when Jesus welcomed these distractions. But there were also times when Jesus ignored them in order to focus on the task at hand.
My favorite example of this comes from today’s passage. Given that the main point of this passage is Jesus’s words about who is and who is not his family, it can be easy to miss the fascinating “B story.” Jesus is “talking to the crowd,” doing the work the Father sent him to do—namely preaching the gospel. All of a sudden, his family shows up. And Jesus ignores them. When Jesus was told his family was waiting outside, he didn’t say, “That’s all folks. My family’s here. You know the rule: God first, family second, work third!” He continued teaching.
At that moment, he was called to work, and he remained fully focused on the task at hand. Conversely, when he was with his family and friends, he was fully focused on them (see Mark 9:30-31).
In these and many other encounters in the gospels, Jesus is reminding us that God is omnipresent and we humans are not. When omnipresent God “became flesh,” Jesus embraced the human limitations of being unipresent. If Jesus couldn’t be in two places at the same time, neither can we. That brings us to the fifth principle in this series:
ACCEPT YOUR UNIPRESENCE
To redeem our time in the model of our Redeemer, we must accept our unipresence and focus on one important thing at a time.
In my book, Redeeming Your Time, I share four practices that will help you live out this principle in the 21st Century. In this video, I share a snippet of one of those practices that will only take you 2 minutes to implement, but will be a total game-changer for your ability to stay focused at work. Seriously, it’s one of the simplest and most effective secrets I’ve ever shared. Watch here.