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Reflections From History and Faith – The Innkeeper’s Decision

By Jeff Olson

We are now in the midst of that time of year when the customary seasonal activities surrounding Christmas occupy much of our personal time. You know – things such as shopping for that perfect gift, making plans for the kids (and perhaps grand kids too) to come home so the family can be together, attending or participating in the Christmas program with your church, attending the Christmas parties with friends, co-workers or church family, buying the ingredients for that special Christmas dinner, looking forward to some of the post-season bowl games and maybe a little more hunting. And, most important of all – having that special time of worship which centers around the reason for the season. Oh, and be sure to thank poor ole’ Dad who has made his annual pilgrimage into the attic and with pretty much the same results as last year… hauling down the decorations and then up again to try locating that one box that has the special ornaments that we cannot do without. Then, back for the Christmas lights and knowing better than to expect them all to light up. After tinkering with them for too long he thought – no problem… As cheap as these lights are we can just buy a new set the next time we are in town. Wasteful? Maybe, but he rationalizes that his time is more valuable than the nominal expense. Naturally, even with the new set there are one or two bulbs which refuse to cooperate. No one will notice… Wrong! Oh well, Dad thinks it is still a beautiful tree and after all, according to Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It is interesting to see how this special season of the year reveals much about each of us, especially our priorities and our treasure. It is a vivid illustration of how we tend to take the time or, if you will, make the room for those activities and those people who are most important to us. The key phrase here is “make the room.” In being the keepers of our own lives, there is much to be learned about each of us through whom and what occupies our time and our space. This is not only true during the Christmas season, but throughout the year as well.

I cannot help but think about this when reading Luke, chapter 2, in the account of Jesus’ birth. In verse 7, we read that there was no room for Him in the inn. How many times in years past have I read and heard this verse and how many times have I failed to consider the innkeeper and his response. While it is true that no innkeeper is actually mentioned in the biblical account, it is likely that one did exist. I have often wondered why the innkeeper could not have somehow found some room or arranged for them to stay at another inn or in a home. Why do you think this extra effort may never have been done? Why do you think that the innkeeper apparently took the easy way out? Was there really no room for Him in the inn, or was there a refusal to make room for Him? Does this not strike a personal chord in your life? – in mine? If not, it is certainly time that it did. There is contemporary song of the season called, There’s A New Kid in Town. I have news. He is no longer new in town and He is not a kid anymore, but He is still being kept outside waiting for some of us to make room for Him.

When it is all said and done, what it all boils down to is a decision. Like the innkeeper in Bethlehem, each of us have a decision to make with Jesus? Praise God He is no longer the baby in a manger or the suffering servant or the crucified sacrifice for our sins. He is the risen King of Kings and Lord of Lords who stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20). The question is: Will the innkeeper open the door and let Jesus in or will the answer continue to be unchanged: There is no room for Him.

So, before moving any further along with the festivities of the season, just maybe we should decide that Jesus does indeed have a place of ultimate importance in all this and then prove it by making room for Him. This He wants so very much, and not for only a season but for a permanent stay. Perhaps it would be a kind and generous gesture to give Him the best room you have. Better yet, why not just humbly open your heart and sign the title over to Him and allow God to convert that old shabby run down inn into a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell and have total control of your life (1 Corinthians 3:16). This way, instead of being treated as just an occasional transient or as only one resident among many, He would become the owner – the landLORD. What a much needed change that would be for some of us, and what a birthday present it would be for Jesus!

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