EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick (Crossway).

Have you ever had that uncomfortable feeling that you’ve forgotten something important but just can’t remember what it is? I had that experience a few weeks ago as my husband and I were leaving church on Sunday morning. I had a niggling sense that I was forgetting something but I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Purse? Nope. Bible? Got it. Then, as we proceeded down the main street toward the freeway, suddenly I started yelling, “The boys, the boys, we’ve forgotten the boys!” As you can imagine, my husband instantly whipped the car around and raced back to the church. I jumped out and ran to find them. I had forgotten that my daughter had asked me to take our grandsons home with us, and when she heard how we almost left them, I’m sure it made her think twice about asking us again. I suppose that’s something most of you can relate to, isn’t it? We all know what it’s like to unintentionally forget someone we love.

In Luke’s Gospel, we read a similar story. Having completed their annual pilgrimage to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph set out to return to Nazareth. After they had gone a day’s journey, they began to search for their son among relatives and acquaintances. Although they had presumed that he was somewhere in the group, they soon discovered that he was nowhere to be found. They returned to Jerusalem immediately and, after searching frantically for him for three days, they found him in the temple, in dialog with the teachers (Luke 2:41–45).

It seems to me that in some ways we’re like Jesus’ parents. Let me explain what I mean. By definition, we Christians joyously celebrate our Passover Lamb, our salvation with Jesus, but then, like his parents, we eagerly head on back to Nazareth, back to living out our beliefs without a conscious awareness or acknowledgment of his presence. Of course, we assume that he is somewhere nearby. We haven’t felt his absence because we’re so preoccupied with living life for him.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that he has left us behind. No, he has promised never to do that. What I am saying is that once we’ve been saved, once we’ve understood and accepted the message of the gospel, the person and work of the Redeemer becomes secondary to what we’re focused on—living the Christian life. We love to remember him at Christmas and Easter. We adore him as the baby in the manger; we rejoice over the empty tomb. But aside from these two seasons, our attention is primarily focused on us, on our performance, on our spiritual growth. We know that the incarnation and resurrection are important truths to our initial salvation, but that’s pretty much where their impact ends.

Let me illustrate what I mean. If I asked you, “Where did the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ intersect with your life yesterday?” would you have an answer? We all know that the crucifixion is important for our initial salvation, but what did it mean to you this morning? Does Calvary inform and warm your heart when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or hearing bad news from your doctor? Does his sinless life comfort you when you realize that you’ve just sinned in that same way again? In other words, is he significantly relevant to you in your daily walk with him?

I don’t assume any malice toward him on our part in our virtual desertion of the Redeemer. Instead, I think the problem is that the answer to the question, Is Jesus relevant? is probably something like, “I guess he should be, but I don’t see how.” I think that we move past him because we don’t really understand how God’s love to us in the gospel applies to our lives practically, here on this side of Calvary. Yes, of course we know that he died for our sins and rose again, but what does that have to do with living life here in the twenty-first century? Again, how relevant is the gospel, the work of Jesus Christ, to you?