by Aaron Tiger
I was reading the Bible this morning. (As a pastor, I officially recommend this practice.) I came across a story that I had read about Jesus as a boy. This is, in fact, the only story about Jesus as a boy that we have, and for that reason it stands out a bit. You can read the story in Luke 2:41-52, but I’ll sum it up for you.
Jesus and his parents went to this giant festival in Jerusalem. When his parents left to go home with a large group of other people, Jesus stayed behind. After a day of traveling, they noticed Jesus wasn’t with them. (Apparently they travel in a big group with enough people they trusted that they had assumed he was well taken care of.) So they went back to Jerusalem and looked for him for three days before they found him in the temple, talking with the religious leaders and amazing the people who overheard their conversations. His parents get on to Jesus and basically say, “Why did you do this to us? We were worried sick about you.” Jesus’ response is “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
I first learned this story as a kid in Sunday school, I remember thinking how silly his parents were for not checking the temple and not thinking that Jesus would be in “his Father’s house” and how amazing it would have been for boy Jesus to have been teaching the rabbis.
Today I saw the story with different eyes. That is one of the benefits of reading the Bible again and again. Just because we know a story does not mean that we know everything about the story. I hope when you read the Bible you do not treat it as a re-run of Law and Order—you have it on in the background, but you are not actively paying attention to it. I hope you really read it and see what God has for you. I read it today and was thinking about people who are searching for Jesus. People search for him in a lot of places, but what if Jesus is in the place you would most expect to find him: the church.
Now I know the church is far from perfect. The church may have hurt you. I know that the church is often more interested in itself than it is in the community around. I know that the church may not seem relevant. However, I also know that the church has brought healing to people who were hurting. I know that the church has invested in the community and changed households and neighborhoods, and I know that the church has existed for over 2000 years in thousands of cultures. The church may be imperfect, but here is what I believe, the church is the place where Jesus is still teaching and still transforming amazing people, including humbling religious leaders like me.
So maybe you have been searching—looking for purpose, hope, community, and love. I believe all of this can be found in a relationship with Jesus. Maybe you have been looking for days, months, or years, and in the chaos of life you have been looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Here’s the good news: if his parents, who knew him better than anyone else on earth, didn’t know where he was initially, it’s okay if you did not know where he was either.
Where is Jesus? He is in the imperfect church, and he has been there all along. I know this is what you would expect to hear from a pastor, and you think I’m supposed to say these things. But isn’t finding purpose, hope, community, and love worth trying to find? So give church a try this weekend. There are lots of great ones out there. I’ll guarantee you this: if you come to church, you’ll find an imperfect church, but the perfect Jesus is there saying, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s House?”
If you want to talk to Aaron about life and faith, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aaron Tiger is a minister at FUMC-Tulsa, a dad, a husband, and a child of God. He is the lead contributor for the918.org.