Jesus is the reason for the season. In our heads we know this is true. But sometimes, rather than being drawn closer to Jesus Christ at Christmas we actually feel distant from him. It seems in the midst of what should be a joyous celebration we have lost the true meaning of Christmas—we have lost Jesus. How does this happen? How does one lose Jesus in the midst of a holiday that is supposed to be about him?
So Close and Yet So Far
Luke 2:41-50 tells the story of how Jesus became separated from two of the most unlikely people.
“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.” (New Living Translation—NLT)
Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph had lost Jesus, not just for a few minutes or a few hours, but also for three whole days-- in the midst of a religious celebration, the Passover. Their relationship was intact. Jesus was still their son. They just couldn’t find him. They had lost fellowship with him. The same thing can happen to you and I. Losing Jesus does not mean we lose our relationship with him. Jesus said in John 10:27-28, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (NLT) Satan cannot snatch us from God’s hand, but he can keep us so busy and preoccupied with those nonessential things of Christmas that we grow distant from Jesus.
How Does it Happen?
Mary and Joseph did not lose Jesus by opposing him. They didn’t lose him by denying Him. They lost him by presumption. The Bible says Mary and Joseph assumed that Jesus was with them. They had just participated in a very significant religious celebration. They had fulfilled all their religious obligations, and they still lost Jesus. In fact, they had traveled a day’s journey before they even realized he was missing. How many times do we come to church, do all the “right” things and still lose Jesus in the midst of it all? Some of God’s choice servants lost fellowship with Him. David, Moses, Samson, and Peter all went though seasons where they lost fellowship with God. When church attendance becomes just another routine, and Christmas just another holiday, then we are in danger of becoming complacent, and complacency is the enemy of communion with God. But there is hope!
In light of the true meaning of Christmas this really should be the most wonderful time of the year. Jesus came as the human representation of God with us—Immanuel. But maybe instead of feeling joyfully connected to Jesus, you instead find yourself feeling far from Him, empty, and maybe even a bit depressed. The good news is you can find Jesus again. You can experience the reality of Immanuel again. How do we find Jesus again?
- Take regular spiritual inventory- Don’t’ take His presence for granted just because you felt Him a year ago, six months ago, or even one month ago. Don’t presume that going to church and doing religious things equals being in intimate relationship with Christ.
- Come back to where you left Him- Mary and Joseph had to return to the temple to find Him. Come back to the altar. Come back to the place where His presence was real in your life. If you come back, you will find that he never left you; you left Him.
- Make a conscious decision to make Him the Lord of your life- He may already be your savior but does he have first place in your life? You must be careful what you handle, where you go, what you look at, what you listen to, the friends you keep, and what you speak. Anything that takes priority over Jesus in your life can dull your heart to His presence
It is not enough to live on yesterday’s anointing and yesterday’s communion. We must seek Him and know Him for today. Jeremiah 29:13 says: “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Don’t lose Christ this Christmas!