The Word Among Us

December 2013 Issue

Is There Any Room at the Inn?

How will you welcome Jesus this Christmas?

Is There Any Room at the Inn?: How will you welcome Jesus this Christmas?

So many voices and images compete for our attention, our time, and our energy. There are literally thousands of advertisements and applications out there promising to make us happy, to help us get ahead, or to solve our problems.

Now, all of these devices keep us plugged in, and that has some real benefits. But at the same time, the more plugged in we are, the less reflective we can become. We are less apt to stand back and ask, “What is my life really about?”

This is one reason why the season of Advent is such a blessing. During these four weeks, we are invited to cut back on the noise—and at just the right time. As the world tends to get noisier, God asks us to spend a little more time in quiet prayer, reflecting on the greatest gift ever given to us.

Too Busy for God? It’s not only the noise that threatens to overwhelm us. Our many priorities and responsibilities consume our energy as well. Work can be demanding. Family obligations and activities, while good and upbuilding, can drain us—not to mention any community activities, schoolwork, and exercise commitments we have made.

Life can become so very busy—to the point where we can feel overcommitted, worn down, and stressed out. It’s ironic, but the faster we move, the less time we seem to have. The more we accomplish, the less fulfilled we feel. And when we finally do decide to get a better handle on our lives, we can’t seem to find the time to reflect on our lives or make any significant changes.

Is this the way God wants us to live? Are we born to simply move from day-to-day, from week-to-week, and from year-to-year? Or does God have special plans and purposes for our lives? Plans to fill us with his love and help us live holy lives. Plans that inspire us to be the light of Christ to everyone we meet.

You Are the Innkeeper. The Gospels are filled with stories of people whose lives were changed when they met Jesus. A Samaritan woman found faith again. Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, not only received his sight; he became a follower of the Lord. A crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus changed his ways and became a generous, upright man. These people, and so many others, made room for Jesus in their lives—and they were richly rewarded. They are our models. They are our heroes and heroines. Their stories are in the Bible so that we will follow their example.

We all know that Jesus was born in a manger because none of the inns at Bethlehem had any room for him. In our own way, we face a decision. We can make room for Jesus, or we can let the noise and the challenges of life fill us up so much that we don’t have any room for him.

You are the innkeeper of your life. You are the one who allows people to come and stay in your life. You are the one who asks them to leave. You are the one who chooses whether there is room for Jesus.

No matter how full our inn may feel, we still find ways to make room for the people we want to let in. We are always ready to welcome the people who we think will bring us some kind of blessing or benefit. It’s why we marry and have children. It’s why we have the friends that we do. It’s why we form relationships at work and at school, in our church, and in our neighborhood. Likewise, we will welcome Jesus into our lives to the degree that we are attracted to him and to the blessings he can give us.

God Made Room for Us. Let’s look at this picture from another angle. Let’s look at God. Surely he has a lot more on his mind than any of us. Yet he was clear enough in his priorities and open enough to our needs that he took the time to launch a centuries-long plan of salvation. He wasn’t just wrapped up in his own life, simply enjoying his marvelous creation. He heard our cry for help, and he came to rescue us!

And how did he rescue us? By sending his one and only Son into the world as a helpless baby born to a poor carpenter and his young wife. God could have done things differently. Jesus could have come in power and glory. He could have come with such a fanfare that people from all over the world would stream to him, repenting of their sins and offering him their worship.

But that’s not what happened. Jesus was born in a stable, alone. There were no midwives, no servants, no doctors, no royal attendants. He slept on straw, not fine linens. He was surrounded by barnyard animals. Only Mary and Joseph were there to witness the blessed event.

This isn’t any way for a king to come to his people! But Jesus chose this lowly setting to make it clear that everyone is welcome. We don’t have to be rich, powerful, well-bred, or well educated. We just have to be ourselves. No one is excluded. No one is too bad—or too good—for Jesus. The invitation to come is open to all.

So if God, who is busy holding the whole world together, has time for us, shouldn’t we make time for him? Jesus tells us, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). The words tell us plainly how much Jesus loves us and wants to make his home in our hearts.

How Poor Are You? Of course, we could put together a long list of reasons why we ought to open the door and let Jesus in. The benefits and blessings are endless! But let’s focus on the most attractive reason why we should let Jesus into our lives: spiritual wealth.

Scripture tells us that Jesus wants to give us “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3). He wants to give us his joy, his love, his peace, his grace, and his mercy. He wants to give us his confidence, his power, his clarity, and his wisdom. All of this wealth is there waiting for us when we let him in.

Jesus is the richest person in the world! He has everything. And he gave it all away so that we could “become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)! He gave up the glory and comforts of heaven for a time so that he could set us free from sin and bring us into his kingdom. He who created the universe and who holds creation in his hands took on human flesh and walked among us for more than thirty years. What’s more, this dramatic sacrifice was crowned by a shameful, agonizing death. Why did he do it? Because he wanted to make room for us in his life. He emptied himself so that there would be plenty of room for us.

So here is the question we should ask this Advent: “Am I poor?” A poor person jumps at the chance to become rich. A poor innkeeper leaps at the chance to host a special guest—especially a guest who offers to pay for a major renovation of the inn. A poor person opens the door. Eagerly, happily, and humbly he welcomes such an esteemed person into his inn!

Brothers and sisters, Jesus promised nothing less than the kingdom of heaven to those who are “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). So welcome him in this Advent. Make room for him in the inn of your heart. Open the door. Let him come in and fill you with all the wealth and blessings he has set aside for you.