Easter is here! Christ has risen! Everything worthwhile is tied to Christ’s resurrection. Paul said,
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain…If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Corinthians 15:14, 19
There are two events in scripture that point to drastic mistakes we can make about Jesus Christ. Both of these mistakes were made by people who were close to Him, who loved Him and were dedicated to Him.
1. FAILING TO RECOGNIZE HIS PRESENCE
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, SUPPOSING HIM to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” John 20:15 (caps mine)
Mary had already been told that Christ was risen (Matthew 28:1-7,) yet she is looking for His body! Mary failed to recognize Christ’s presence in her life. When problems come we call them circumstances instead of God’s presence. We blame atmospheric conditions for storms, yet there is scripture piled on top of scripture telling us that God controls the weather. We refer to the catastrophic times in our lives as “bad luck,” “accidents” or “freaks of nature.” The religious blames all their problems on Satan, forgetting God’s presence. When He said He would never leave us, what did He mean? Was He just speaking of the good times only? In our darkest hours, does he not stand by our side repeating “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5.)
In the Old Testament is a story of Manasseh, a rebellious king of Judah (2 Chronicles 33:1-16.) Manasseh knew better because his father had been a godly king, but he continued his disobedience to the point he was called “worse than the heathen” (v. 9.) God attempts to reason with Manasseh, but he pays no attention (v. 10.) As we read this passage we find God has ways of getting Manasseh’s attention. Notice that it was the Lord that brought the affliction, hardship and pain upon Manasseh, not Satan. Manasseh recognized God’s presence, repented and things turned around.
God is in every facet of our lives. He is on the job with us. He is with us at our exercise class, sporting events, family get-togethers, leisure time, 24-7. Wearing a cross on our lapel, having a fish on our bumper or a “Jesus Loves You” sign in our window is not what makes it so. Those things are not wrong, but they have no magical qualities. They are not “good luck charms” any more than a St. Christopher statue on the dash.
As the songwriter said, “The God of the mountain is also God of the valley.” In the darkest hour of God’s weakest child, He is there.
God help us to recognize His presence.
2. FAILING TO RECOGNIZE HIS ABSENCE
“And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.  But they, SUPPOSING HIM to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.” Luke 2:43-44 (caps mine)
At the age of twelve, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for a feast (His bar-mitzvah.) Jesus stayed to do His Father’s business. Here we have the closest humans to Jesus and they do not recognize His absence!
Back when the “God is Dead” theme was making its rounds, someone asked, “If He was dead, would that change the order of the service Sunday?” How many cold dead churches linger on? They haven’t had an adult saved in years. How long has it been since someone has shed tears of remorse over an ungodly life? No wonder many wanted to see a change in our worship (?) services. We have changed and still nothing is happening. We are going to draw the young people with our new methods but we haven’t. Have those that we have drawn dedicated themselves to the spreading the gospel of Christ or is church just another activity with no eternal consequences? We keep stressing the church of the future, when we need to stress being like the church of the past.
“My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change.” Proverbs 24:21
In Israel, God just left one day! The high priest died, his immoral sons were killed, the Philistines took the ark of God and as a woman gave birth, she named her child Ichabod, saying “the glory is departed from Israel” (1 Samuel 4:21.)
God help us to recognize His absence. A friend told me recently that a new Christian has about two years effectiveness, then most become like all the other church members. I look at myself and see a failing Christian, one who needs to attend “follow-ship” classes instead of leadership classes. God help me to weep over my sin. I say with David, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psalms 51:12.)
May we have such a walk with Him that we will recognize His presence as well as His absence.
Keep Looking Up!
This Blog is a republished one of Leland Maples which he submitted while he was being an ambassodor for Christ while he was with us. Enjoy!