Each year (other than the past year) The Church of Jesus Christ holds annual or semi-annual events, such as campout or conference, which offer the opportunity for our members to travel to a specific location and spend time with fellow believers, growing in the faith. Families are encouraged to bring children and young people with them so they can begin to grow in the faith as well.
Two thousand years ago, these events did not exist. However, the annual event of Passover served a similar purpose for those of the Jewish faith.
People could travel to a specific location (Jerusalem) and spend time with fellow believers, growing in the faith. Children and young people could attend as well.
Joseph and Mary were among those who traveled to Jerusalem each year, participating in the feasts and ceremonies associated with celebrating Passover. They brought young Jesus with them on these trips.
On one such trip (see Luke 2:41-45), Jesus is 12 years old, and something unusual happens. At the conclusion of the event, Joseph and Mary and the group traveling with them depart for home. After traveling for the first day, the group stops for the night and, to their horror, Joseph and Mary discover that Jesus is not with the group.
They’ve left Him behind!
Now, if you believe in responsible parenting, you’re probably mortified by this. How could they leave Him behind? What parents (other than the ones in the movie “Home Alone”) would leave on a long journey and not make sure their child was with them?
As we discover later in the chapter (and will discuss in the next article), Jesus had His own reasons for remaining in Jerusalem. But His parents didn’t know that—they just assumed that He was with somebody else in their group, and they went on their way.
Of course, they were all eventually reunited, but it’s easy to imagine their family and friends advising them the next year before the annual trip to celebrate Passover, “When you leave Jerusalem, don’t leave Jesus behind!”
We could advise ourselves in a similar way:
- When you leave a campout or conference, don’t leave Jesus behind!
- When you leave a church service, don’t leave Jesus behind!
- When you leave home to begin your day, don’t leave Jesus behind!
In general, any time we are somewhere we feel close to the Lord—such as any of the places listed above—we should make sure that we take Jesus with us. Don’t leave Him behind!
Think about how you feel when you’re close to the Lord:
- You feel loved when you take communion and reflect on how Jesus died for you.
- You feel at peace when you sing hymns and feel God’s Spirit.
- You feel like you want your actions to please God when you read His Word.
- You feel your faith growing when you hear testimonies of miracles and answered prayers.
- You feel the strength of the Lord with you when you have your own miracles and answered prayers.
After experiencing all of the above, why would we then go out into the world and feel anxious or fearful or that God suddenly doesn’t care about us?
Why would we allow our words or actions to perhaps portray us as someone other than a servant of God?
Why would we not be prayerful about all aspects of our lives, confident to place it all in the hands of God?
Why would we leave Jesus behind?
To be precise, it’s the Holy Ghost (the Comforter that Jesus left in His place) that actually resides with us, but since the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one, it’s not incorrect to say that Jesus is with us.
So, if we experience times when our thoughts, words, actions, feelings or priorities are not the same as they are when we feel close to the Lord (perhaps due to not heeding the prompting of the Holy Ghost), then we have effectively left Jesus behind. And, if we realize we’ve done that, then we’d best go back and be reunited with Him right away—before we get too far away.
Our relationship with Christ is not a part-time relationship. We don’t have to compartmentalize our service to God. When you feel close to the Lord, it doesn’t have to end when the meeting is over. Wherever you go, whatever you do, the Lord wants to come along with you. So make sure you don’t leave Jesus behind!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.