Thursday, December 24, 2009



One of the all-time bestselling series was LEFT BEHIND. It was based upon bible prophecy with the premise that someday those who are faithful followers of Jesus will be snatched away and the non-believers will be left behind. Although Jesus used the context of "in the days of Noah" where only the believer/followers were the ones left behind and not the non-believers, this teaching is very pervasive today.

Whatever teaching is true-Jesus' words or the popular prophets of our day-I am more concerned about Jesus being LEFT BEHIND. I especially think about this at the two most revered holidays within the Christian world-Christmas and Easter.

As you know we have set out to do the most difficult thing we've ever done in our lives. We are trying to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus and embrace Jesus as a lifestyle. One of the reasons for not being able to do this in the past is that we had our focus on something closely related to Jesus year after year, yet quite different with disappointing results. We were either adding something to Jesus as if He needed our additions or we were diluting the awesomeness of Jesus by packaging Him in our comfortable, spiritual boxes. Because our focus was not on simply Jesus, many times we have caught ourselves just going through the motions of the spiritual life. We had effectively left Jesus behind as we set out to live our lives.

I found out the hard way that leaving Jesus behind proved to be disastrous. Life doesn't work well without Him and I didn't know what to do to work well for Him. I kept leaving Jesus behind!

This Christmas morning I want to suggest the three most common ways of putting Jesus in the position of being left behind in your life. FIRST-We tend to leave Jesus behind in the manger! Jesus is no longer in a manger or cattle feeding trough. Both the Bible and the Qur'an teach that Jesus was born of a virgin and He is called the Word of God. In the first chapter of John it says the "Word" became flesh (not a book nor a religious organization), grew up and "dwelt" among us (made Himself at home among us), being full of grace and truth. Jesus is not still in the manger, so don't leave Him there. Learn to relate and interact with Jesus out of the manger.

This reminds me of the program for a Christmas pageant several years ago that listed out all of the actors by name. When it came to Jesus, it said, "The baby Jesus is played by a 60 watt light bulb." When you leave Jesus behind, an impersonal light bulb may be the only light you'll be able to see and share.

SECOND-We tend to leave Jesus behind on the cross! Whether you are Catholic with Jesus visibly hanging there or you relate to Jesus with the symbol of an empty cross, the story and dynamic of Jesus is so much more than a cross. He's been there-done that and now wants you to enjoy Him as the resurrected one-the one who knows you best and loves you the most!

THIRD-We tend to leave Jesus behind in the clouds! Those who are so focused on Jesus' 2nd Coming tend to be looking up into the clouds and looking ahead to the sweet bye and bye. So life becomes all about Jesus coming in the clouds to get us out of this mess. This is not what Jesus taught and lived. He wants to dwell among us as our King-our Master-right here in the nasty now and now. There is no escape clause for those who believe and follow Him. And, if Jesus does snatch those who believe and follow Him out of this world, it is only to bring us right back down here to dwell in His amazing presence on earth. In other words, there's a U-turn right back to earth. That's where the streets of gold, etc. will be-right here!

So, why do we tend to leave Jesus behind in the manger, on the cross or up in the clouds? Three simple things come to mind. It seems to be a natural, human tendency to leave Jesus behind or leave Jesus out. To do this (1) localizes Jesus to some place where we can visit or not, (2) limits Jesus from doing things that might be out of my comfort zone, and (3) leaves me alone to my own thinking, so that I can salvage some sort of fantasy of being in control.

To leave Jesus behind is to worship an impersonal God. And, if He is impersonal, then we tend to worship and lift up religiosity, traditions and man-made commandments. Hey, this Christmas do everything you can do to make it all about personalizing Jesus. Release Jesus from the manger. Remove Him from the cross. Refocus your eyes out of the clouds and be a part of what Jesus is doing right here on earth right now. Jesus is awesome, alive and actively desiring to make Himself at home in your life. Will you let Him do just that this Christmas?