Seeking that which is lost
"And it came to pass that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers." -Luke 2:46-47
By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.
Sometimes I've turned the contents of my home upside-down and inside-out, looking for keys, checkbooks, notes, money, or 1,001 other misplaced items. It can be very frustrating.
How often do you lose or misplace something? Be honest; two, maybe three, times a week? Daily?
I pose this topic of losing things because I want you to reflect on the touching story of how Jesus was lost as a child-and how, even today, we lose him in our everyday lives. That statement is as true today as it was when Jesus strayed from his parents in Jerusalem. We lose him, not in the physical sense, but in a deeper, more personal, spiritual sense.
I have discovered it is easy to lose Jesus. Tragically, some people never find him or don't know they need to find him.
We lose Christ inside our churches
How ironic that the one place Mary and Joseph never thought to look for Jesus was in the temple! When they found him and told him how fearful they had been, Jesus replied, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house and about my Father's business?"
Even today we lose Jesus in that holiest place of all-the church! That is the last place where some people expect to find him.
I've heard people describe church as being a house full of hypocrites. It is! I've heard others say church is full of sinners and imperfect people. It is!
Church is all these things and more. What separates it from every other organization? The answer is the person we are called to follow and emulate-Jesus Christ.
However, the church loses Christ when it fails to be the eyes, hands, mouth, and body of Christ in this needy world. When we examine churches today, we discover some of them lack mission and purpose. Some are merely civic groups or social clubs. Their members have little understanding about God's purposes for them.
The church is where we can find Jesus. We find him in the inspiration of the music, sermon, good works and, especially, in the Sacrament that he poured out for us. This unique fellowship cannot be found any other place-and when these elements are missing at the church, we have lost Jesus.
We lose Christ in our sins
Have you noticed how infrequently people use the word "sin"? One of the first things the Bible teaches is that sin is tremendously important to God. The Creator did not simply utter warnings against sin; God gave the only begotten Son to die for your sins!
Sin keeps God's children from finding Christ in the dark areas of each soul.
Sin tricks you. It robs you of your heritage. It disables and enfeebles you. It saps your character and wrecks your home. Sin is at the heart of many tragedies reported around the world.
If you are going to find Christ, you need to be concerned about your sins.
Do you continue in your sins and pretend they don't matter-or do you repent of your sins and ask God for forgiveness? The cross of Christ reminds you that sin is neither hopeless nor incurable. Into a hopeless and despairing world came the thrilling hopefulness of Calvary.
Have you found Christ yet? Have you discovered Jesus will and can absolve you of your sins and set your captive heart free?
Don't lose Jesus in your sins.
We lose Christ in the way we live
Another way we lose Christ is by leaving him out of our lives. When we fail to look to Jesus as the Son of God and fail to live by his principles of love and concern for one another, we have lost him yet again.
So many people move through life each day without Christ, without the glorious power he transmits. Without him, your life can become a meaningless, never-ending journey into despair. You may end up asking, "Is this all there is to life?"
What about your life? Has Christ been lost to you because you have failed to live for him? When was the last time you ministered to the hungry or the thirsty, to a stranger or someone ill, or to the prisoner? Can others see Christ in you? Are his teachings reflected in what you do, how you act, and how you treat others?
When you reach out to the least of humankind, you reach out to him as well.
Don't lose Jesus. Look for him in your church, ask him to help you with your sins, and live for him as one who is prepared to die for him. Find him, for his message and his teachings will astonish you, just as it did the elders and teachers in the temple who heard him when he was a boy.
Having said that, I must go find my keys.