Mary and Joseph kept the Passover every year in Jerusalem. Teaming thousands of others did the same and every year Jerusalem buzzed with unleavened bread eaters. These feasts were great religious moments as well as relational conduits. While fulfilling your religious duty there was ample time to develop meaningful friendships.
For days, the natural parents of Jesus were busy with this and that. The temple was crowded and their minds clouded. Their week spent celebrating, connecting, and consecrating, must have left them barely conscious. They finally left the ceremony and took up the trail for home. Only to realize they had lost Jesus somewhere a long the path. Like any good parents, I am sure they were full of fear. Horrible images of their life without Jesus surely sprang into their subconscious. Their voices were raspy after spending the day calling out His name every couple of steps. The feasting mentality was gone; food was inconsequential on their quest for Jesus. Scurrying about, asking friends, and backtracking, led them to the temple. There their concern vanquished with relief when they saw Jesus talking with the men of renown.
They had done what multitudes have done since: they lost Jesus at church. It does not seem possible but it is plausible. Full of great intentions and divine interests, because of the crowd, the ceremonies, and the connections; many lose Jesus in all the hustle and bustle of religion.
It’s really simple to become sidetracked while tracking God. A friend steps in and fills your mind with all kinds of pertinent information. The ceremony of church can cause you to enter into a circling pattern whose trajectory leads you further and further from what caused you to come to church in the first place. Even the celebration can end up being about the celebration. The cadence of the chorus can catch you, leaving you jiving to the music, but not pursuing Jesus. The politics of church have captured not a few. Some desire to climb the ladder at the cost of losing their love for Jesus. Church becomes about church. Inadvertently you’ve lost the Person in the pomp.
Once you realize you’ve lost Him, go on a Jesus search. This requires you to separate from the crowd. You must backtrack. Where did you last really see Him? Call His name out in prayer. Avoid food for as long as it takes. Allow the fear of God to filter back into your core. But above all else – look past the crowds of people. Beyond the religious rigmarole, your righting moment will come.
Jesus will still be at church. However, this Jesus is the focus of everybody’s attention. The fan-fare has a new focus point. The fanatical are at His feet eagerly listening to every word He speaks. This Jesus amazes them all. Religious operation is at a stand still. Jesus is back in His rightful place. Jesus is at the center of this church – as He should be.
What about you? Have you ever lost Jesus at church? What distracted you? Have you found Him again?