Christ Can Be Lost
He was lost here according to this Scripture. And He was lost by those who loved Him. And lost in Jerusalem and in the Temple! Each successive statement I make increases the wonder. And yet why be astonished when the same thing is happening today. Christ is still lost by His friends, and in Jerusalem, and in the Temple.
When the question is put, “How was it done?” the answers are various, but the solemn fact of a Savior parted from cannot be denied by certain heavy hearts. The language of the soldier to Ahab is in substance what they say in explanation: “As thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” (1 Kings 20:40) Many say, “I cannot tell how it happened, but one day I woke up to the fact that the Savior was no longer with me.”
Some lose Him in the bustle of life.
Joseph and Mary were so busy buying and selling, and getting ready for travel that their eyes got off Jesus and they drifted apart. Many have done just the same since. They never intended the thing to happen, but they became so absorbed that it did. In some of these cases there was no flagrant sin, but strange to say, while attending to a business or occupation that was legitimate and proper, they gradually let go of Christ. They were busy buying and selling, taking care of the children, attending to the husband, and running around generally, when lo! the loss was discovered. There were hours of laughing and talking, days were consumed in entertaining company, contact with many people distracted and diverted the mind so that one night in going to bed there was no Christ in the heart. They were fairly jostled out of the divine companionship by the multitude; and as a good man once said: “I was bustled out of my spirituality.”
Again some people lose Christ in the church.
It is a fearful thought to think that Jesus is parted with in the service of God. But just as Joseph and Mary got separated from Him in Jerusalem, it has often been and still is the case. It was what happened to Eli’s sons who became corrupt in the priesthood. It was what took place with Judas who retrograded from an apostle to a thief, betrayer, and self-murderer. It is what is happening in a number of pulpits today. Preachers are losing Christ; the dark, sad face, hard tone, and unctionless sermon are unmistakable. It is what is taking place in Boards of Stewards, Ladies’ Aid and Missionary Societies, and the pew as well. Numbers of souls are losing Jesus in Jerusalem and in the Temple.
In a great revival God gave me, among many persons at the altar was a preacher from a distant city. The people thought he was seeking sanctification, but he was groaning after a departed Christ and lost salvation.
At another meeting the superintendent of the Sunday school was on his face before the altar. I never saw a man weep so in my life; he shook with great sobs. I bent over him thinking that he wanted sanctification, when he groaned under his breath to me that he had lost Christ. Here was a backslider in charge of a Sunday school of eight hundred children.
In the same meeting I was talking with a steward at the altar. The man’s tears wet the rail on which he leaned. He groaned and sobbed so that it was some time before I could understand him. Being a prominent member of the church, I thought he was at the altar consecrating himself with a view to receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost, when between his groans he told me this. He said, “My wife has been at your meetings and is deeply moved. Last night she could not sleep, and woke me up at twelve o’clock crying out, ‘Oh, Will, I have lost Christ! Tell me how to find Him.’ Oh!” groaned the man, “I was speechless. She thought I had Christ, but I, too, have lost Him.”
Suppose every man in the church who passes the collection basket, and every usher who seats the audience, and every singer in the choir, and every prominent man or woman in the pew were compelled to stand up and publicly confess their spiritual condition today, what a shock would be occasioned on earth, and what an uproar of merriment would be heard in hell. You little know how many Christians have lost Jesus in Jerusalem, and more still in the Temple.