So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
When the Son of God was born on this earth, the birth took place out in a barn because there was no room at the Inn; unbelievable!
Can you imagine anything more ridiculous? The very incarnation of God, and no one can open their doors… “Well, you can stay in the barn I guess, but don’t touch anything!”
There are many ways to look at this, and preachers have done their sermons on it for years, and yet it still amazes me. Look, if Joseph and Mary came to my house and needed a place to stay, I’d make room for them, wouldn’t you? Imagine having Jesus born right there in the guest room; wow!
Wait a minute! That way of thinking is ridiculous, isn’t it?
My door would be open to really good friends or family, but not to a dirty couple of strangers, and certainly not for a home birth… think of the mess, and how do I know they won’t steal something?
Suddenly this isn’t such an easy thing, is it? Do we really welcome strangers in the 21st century? No, but sometimes we talk a good game. Our world is a dangerous place, you can never tell who is some kind of a criminal… no, it’s better not to be involved. “Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?”
Being entirely serious, there is a real dilemma here for a Christian. We know what Jesus said about entertaining strangers and we know the whole concept of showing His love to those around us, but is it just a concept; some sort of a metaphor?
Here is what I can say for certain: It is no metaphor. Sharing Christ’s love with strangers is a real thing, not a metaphorical concept. On the other hand, having perfect strangers in one’s home overnight is risky to say the least, and I don’t know how to reconcile the two; apparently the people of Bethlehem didn’t either, but God used the situation to bring glory to Himself. God showed us that even those in the most humble of circumstances could be the greatest of blessings to Mankind, and the mightiest of His servants. It has always struck me fairly hard that Messiah did not come as someone in high society, but as a common working class man from “fly over country.”
Over the years, I haven’t had the best of luck trying to lead the poorest and most humble of people to Christ, to be honest. I don’t even speak the language of the inner city or rural poor, and yet I’ve seen others do amazing work in these areas. I’ve had more success with the educated, while those I’ve met who work with the poor have not. It might just be that each of us has his or her own ‘calling’ as to who we can best work with, but I’d like to share an idea with you, and in so doing remind myself of it:
It is true that each of us has a calling in some area with the spiritual gifts to go with it, but all of us have an imperative to share with those God brings across our paths. We mustn’t say that a person God brings to us isn’t the right one for us to share with. This can be uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s no excuse; who can say what God is up to? We might just be the one who plants a seed that results in a glorious harvest that someone else brings in later that we never even find out about. The only way to be sure is to never share at all, and then we can be sure that we have frustrated the spread of the Gospel of Salvation.
O Lord, guide us and lead us to do your will in all things!