Did you ever fail to recognize someone because you saw them outside of their normal context? My wife recently saw our eye doctor shopping in plain clothes with her son by her side. Even though we have been going to the same optometrist for eight years, it took my wife several seconds to recognize the doctor. I’ve done the same thing with neighbors when I see them at a mall instead of around the housing area. The reason this happens is because we associate the face to a place. When we see someone outside of the usual and expected location, we have difficulty recognizing them. Sadly this same principle applies to seeing Jesus in the everyday moments of our lives.
It’s easy to feel the presence of God in our Sunday worship services (or at least I hope you are in a fellowship where this is true). We sing songs that prepare our hearts to hear God’s truth spoken to us by pastors and teachers. Everything about a church service is designed to bring those in attendance into unity with each other and with Christ. We recognize Jesus through the written and spoken word. We feel His presence in the songs that we sing, and in the warm embrace of friends and fellow believers. When our attitudes are right, we actually come to the service expecting to see Jesus. We expect to see His face in church on Sunday, but how often do we see Jesus in the middle of our week?
The truth is that Jesus is visible throughout our days, but we simply fail to recognize Him because He’s showing up out of our expected context. He’s the neighbor picking up the garbage that spilled overnight, the homeless person huddled in a stairwell on the street you walk every morning on your way to the office. Jesus is beside the harried mother with four kids in the car with a flat tire on the side of the road. He’s with the janitor in your office building whom you’ve never spoken to in seven years. Christ was there when you ordered the sandwich from the aging father at the fast food joint who is trying to earn some cash any way he can in order to feed his family. Jesus was there when you took your meal and the spouse who created it for granted because you were too busy thinking about the program you DVR’d last night.
Our problem is we don’t see Jesus because He is constantly showing up out of context. We aren’t looking for Him outside of our comfortable church buildings. We don’t recognize Him when we aren’t being led into His presence or spoon fed with His message. We go to church expecting to see Jesus, but we live our lives unaware that He is there. We can’t be disciples of Jesus and not be actively seeking His face. To claim to follow Him while walking our own way is self-deception and hypocrisy. Jesus must be the center of our lives, in everything we do and everything we say. We must train our eyes to see Him everywhere and in everything. We should never be in a context where we fail to recognize Jesus. He is everywhere we go, and it’s our job to serve Him in that place, wherever it may be. Would you recognize Jesus out of context? Starting right now, look for Him throughout your day. Find Him in the corners of your world and serve Him wherever you find Him.