Friday, December 27, 2013

Room at the Inn

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." - Luke 2:1-7

Sometimes, I think about what it would be like to have been the hypothetical innkeeper. I say hypothetical because I am assuming there were likely many places Mary and Joseph could have stayed, whether it be with family or at "the inn" or in a guest room.

Instead, Mary and Joseph wind up in who knows where really - a cave? a barn? - to give birth to her son.

Honestly, if a woman comes to your door who is nine months pregnant and thinks she might go into labour at any second, it seems a bit odd to be like, "Well... there's this cave over here with some animals where you can stay. And there's even this crunchy bed of hay to put your newborn in!"

Perhaps part of the reason they were turned away was because they were outcasts. Mary would be labelled similarly to how young mothers/"teenage pregnancies" are labelled today - they are irresponsible, dirty, bad influences, probably getting into more trouble.And so they are turned away - the innkeeper and the guests were not willing to give up their rooms for this couple. A baby out of wedlock?! - those heathens.

Perhaps another simpler reason is simply that they were too busy, too full. They were packed and another couple, especially one about to pop out another occupant, were just too much. It's not as if Mary glowed with angelic halos or Joseph was shining with holiness. They were a simple, plain couple, who were defined most simply by their love, devotion and faith in God.

But back to this innkeeper - think about this. Our hypothetical innkeeper had the opportunity to welcome the kind of the world, their Creator, into their home. But they turned them away and housed them in a manger.

It makes me pause, and wonder how many times I've turned away Jesus myself. Whether it be through being too busy, with a schedule too full, or by pre-judging someone on those societal or moral standards before truly getting to know them.

I think we can all learn a lesson from the innkeeper. Jesus comes in strange disguises. Most often in the ones that most offend us.

Listen for the knock at your door, and look anxiously for the opportunity to host Him.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Judgement and Insecurity

I face a constant battle with myself for perfection. 

There is a part of me that wants so badly to model herself after Jesus completely, to have his heart, to have this immense capacity to forgive, to love, to be gentle with the people who are harsh and unloving towards me. I want this so badly, and yet, I face myself - everyday - in the mirror and see the ways I fail in these departments over and over and over and over again. Especially in the judgement section.

And I have begun to recognize that my harshest judgements and criticisms of others largely come from the fears and insecurities I have within myself.

Appearance is a great example.

How often do we see someone with a different body type than us and immediately find a reason to cast judgement on them? 

Are they thinner than us? They must be snobs that spend all their time and money on organic food and exercising at the gym.

Are they fatter than us? They must be lazy and eating too much candy.

This is our judgement. But in reality, when we search deep within ourselves, we find that it is rather us with the problem - we are terrified and fearful of being judged by the people around us because of our appearance. Which is why there is this constant quest for consumerism and fashion, for fitting in, or losing weight, or being perfectly toned. 

We are insecure in our bodies, and unable to accept others for being exactly who they are. Which is all they need. All we need. 

And so, when I get angry, I need to ask myself why I am angry. Is it actually their comment or their attitude, or is it something in myself that causes me to react in the way I am? 

I remain responsible for however I respond, but being aware of what's causing me to want to respond in a certain way can help me address that insecurity and fill it in another way. If we want to love others better, we need to feel secure in ourselves. 

And perhaps that comes first from being fully aware of our acceptance in Christ.

But that's another conversation.