Welcome and At Home

16 12 2014

rainbow lodge 2I’ve always said that our house is perfectly furnished for boys. Perfect for all-out nerf gun battles, for video-game playing, and for just hanging out and eating pizza. There is not a piece of furniture in harm’s way that is worth more than $20 tops. And as parent of a teenage boy who does have friends over, I like it this way.

The stable in Bethlehem was the perfect place as well, for those who were invited to visit Jesus, the newborn king. There is irony in the story that the greatest One to ever be born found his first room to be one perfectly fit, not for royalty, but for animals and those who cared for them. But where else would the shepherds have found an open door? Had Mary, Joseph, and their new child found lodging in a nicer place, their first guests would have been turned away, no matter how much they insisted that they had been invited. The shepherds were not only invited to see the newborn King, but were able to meet Him in a place where they felt welcome.

It has begged the question in my own heart – do I see myself as good enough for the people that God has brought my way? Do I see them as good enough? In a culture where we always seem to be watching for opportunities to improve our image, we impose a criteria on ourselves and those we encounter, determining if we have something to gain or lose by the interaction, and if it worth the cost of our time and hospitality.

Imagine an economy where this mindset doesn’t even come into play! Where image-management is a non-issue! We read in Philippians 2:5ff, “…Christ Jesus… though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Starting with His first visitors, God Incarnate not only welcomed the outcasts of the town, but created a space that helped them feel at home. Having no image or reputation to manage before others, Jesus focused throughout His time on earth on the purpose for his coming – to welcome all who came to Him and bring them to the foot of the cross for salvation and restoration. He did not need to rally support for what God had sent Him to do, and so was free to ignore the public polls and care for all who came His way.

What motivates us to welcome others? This Advent, may we lay aside our need to manage what others think of us and reach out without discrimination to those around us, creating space for all to feel welcome in the presence of Christ.


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