We consider ourselves hospitable people, especially in the south. We like opening our homes to guests…so much so that we invite them in and say, “Please, make yourself at home!” It is the hospitable thing to do, right?
What if, though, our house guest arrived and we said our hospitable phrase and our guest took it to heart? What if our guest arrived, situated themselves in their room and started pilfering through out medicine cabinet? What if they really made themselves at home?
After our guest finished in the bathroom with the medicine cabinet, he/she moved to the linen closet and started to rearrange the sheets and towels, even throwing some out? We were totally caught off guard when we saw them start going through the medicine cabinet, but now we’re beginning to think they’re just a little crazy.
Our guest doesn’t stop with the linen closet. She/he soon moves to the kitchen, walks over to the refrigerator, throws open the door and starts throwing away some of our favorite treats! Our guest just looks at some things and says, “That’s just not healthy for you,” and throws it in the trash.
We’re flabbergasted! How could this guest, this person we’ve invited into our home be so brazen? Who does he think he is, anyway? But, having finished in the kitchen our guest moves to the living room and begins taking out our furniture. We soon discover the furniture was removed only to facilitate the wholesale renovation of the living room…new flooring, new paint, and even new furniture.
Room by room, eventually our guest makes his way through our entire home, moving, changing, renovating those areas we rather liked and were comfortable with. Before we know it, the entire house is remade. And, it all started because we wanted to be hospitable!
No, we really didn’t mean, “Make yourself at home.” We were just being nice. After all, we’re nice people. What we really meant was, “Welcome to MY home. Please make yourself as comfortable as you can, but please don’t touch my stuff. Clean up after yourself and allow me to offer you what I choose to offer.”
You’ve probably figured out by now that this is somewhat of an allegory, right? Of course you have. No, I didn’t make it up. I had a seminary professor who used it in class one day, but I’ve remembered it for over twenty years. The allegory reflects how we often treat Jesus when we come to the saving knowledge of His grace.
We “invite” Jesus into our hearts…invite him to make it his home, but we rather want to treat him as a guest. Yet, Jesus wants to come into our homes (our hearts) and not simply move things around, but make wholesale changes. He wants to clean out the closets. E. Stanley Jones has a wonderful thought about Christian closets in his book Growing Spiritually. Jones says, “There are no skeletons in the Christian’s closet, for they have all come out and are clothed in flesh and blood and walk as witnesses to the saving power of Christ.”
Jesus wants to change us from the inside out. When, through the work of the Holy Spirit, he begins that process we balk. It’s painful! We even feel it’s a bit inconceivable that he’d come in and start changing things. After all, this is my life! I only wanted to enjoy his visit. Share a few words of encouragement. He’d stay a few days and then move on. That was the plan. I didn’t intend for him to stay, and I certainly didn’t intend for him to start changing everything. That’s just “inconceivable!”
We invite Jesus to become Lord of our lives. When we open our hearts to the life-changing power of God in Jesus Christ, we surrender our property rights. We are no longer our own. We are his, and the home that once belonged to us, becomes his home. When Jesus is Lord, we’re no longer the property owner. We become the tenants. We don’t invite Jesus to make himself at home. We give him the home!
What difference will it make to our lives if we begin to see Jesus, not as a resident of our hearts, but as the owner of them? What items would he throw out of our refrigerators? What renovations would he choose to make? Ponder these questions a while. See what difference it makes.
Until next time, keep looking up…