When The Homeless Come To Stay With You…

First, the mess:

Ya know?  When you invite Jesus (the Matthew-25 Jesus) into your home, it is only appropriate to feed him (see Abe and Sarah in Gen. 18).  But the thing is… feeding guests always creates a mess.  Dishes to wash, leftovers to put up, and often enough, food bits wind up all over the floor – especially when feeding the uncivilized.  In my case, that generally means toddlers flinging food off their high chairs, getting it in their hair, all over their clothes and so forth.  However, lots of people dribble food and drink down their shirt, get sauce from their fingers all over the chair, the table, the doorknob.

(Hosting a Super Bowl party?  Think your drunk guests won’t get wing sauce on the TV remote?)

Then there is the bathroom.  Some people just never flush.  Oh my, that is a joy!  Some are incontinent and make a mess like that right in their pants.  And sure enough, the toddlers and the infant always do that, but I have experienced it with adults too, and that introduces the extra added dimension of guarding one’s dignity, if they still have any.  And some of them can’t seem to aim their business in the commode at all.

But then there are the truly bizarre messes that defy any explanation.  Here’s a juicy one – boogers!  Why would I ever find boogers smeared on the wall next to the bed?  Well, if I say the word “toddlers” it begins to help explain, but what if I say “adult”???

The fact of the matter is… when Jesus comes into the house, he flips the tables!  Seriously, read your gospels.  And the funny thing that you don’t laugh about is how this is referred to as “cleansing the temple”!  Why on earth do we go to church and expect Jesus to be there (on the one hand) but to just endorse our way of ordering the place (on the other)?  Why is it that we invite Jesus into our hearts, but not into our home?  Is that because if we take him at his word that he is that stranger (that needy person, that sojourner, that orphan) that we rightly fear the mess he will bring with him???

Yes, if you want Jesus in your life, it’s gonna cost ya!  Your life is not your own!  And that means your home too!

Second, the Party:

But there is a JOY set before him, for which he endures the cross (Heb. 12:2).  Yeah, he endures that awful cross for the JOY set before him!  The cross!  That rugged cross they nailed him to, and hoisted him up naked before the jeering crowds, where the splinters snagged in the lashes from the whip as he took leverage from the nails so that he could pull himself up to take a breath, with which he forgave his tormenters… yeah… THAT CROSS!

Makes you wanna ask… don’t it?  What JOY is worth all that???

Yeah, if the endurance is that tough, it makes me wanna know… WHAT JOY IS WORTH ALL THAT???

Well, if he endures that cross for that JOY, surely you and I can endure some mess for the JOY of celebrating Jesus at our table dining with us, sleeping in our guest room, and finally accepting the invitation to come into our hearts!

How’s that for a bit of perspective?

Yeah!  And there is JOY in that party.  I don’t likely have to convince you of the JOY of the infant smiling at me when I hold her in my arms and make funny faces and funny voices.  I get all googoo with baby talk and find deep, rich JOY in her affection, even though she craps in her little pants as I hold her.  The JOY is worth it!  Same goes for the toddlers!

Oh, but those homeless bums we let in… what about them?

Yeah, I have to work hard to convince you there is JOY in sharing with them.

And I won’t lie.  Some of them will lie and manipulate and steal from you as you make yourself vulnerable.  But none of that makes them even the slightest less valuable to Jesus – or to those who claim to belong to him.  And besides, not only do you have sin in your own life (for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)), but such issues are signs, signals to us who care, that these souls have been deeply damaged on their journey(s) through this world and need the healing touch of Jesus.

But all of that is really a bunny-trail chase when the part I really want you to know is the JOY of celebrating Jesus in and amid such people.  And I must confess, there is a mystery there that cannot be completely explicated this side of experiencing it.  We can analyze it only so much.  There is a mist of mystery shrouding it, but it’s not all that different from the JOY had holding that infant either, though she crap in her diaper, and though the smell when opening it up tests my gag reflex every time.  It’s amazing how the JOY is worth it actually, and how hardly anyone notices the cost once they have shared in this JOY!  And I don’t expect her to get over it before I love her, nor do I expect she will stop this awful behavior anytime in the next year.  In fact, I am committed to shaping her character and behavior over the course of at least the next eighteen years.  So why the suddenly high standards for the adults who are so deeply damaged by addiction and life on the streets?  Those are impossible standards that Jesus never endorses.

And anyway, if you go look at those gospel accounts, I mean really look and watch this Jesus you so admire and orient your life toward, you will find crowds of hurting, needy people pressing in on him everywhere he goes!

Does that sound like your church???

Does that sound like you???

Is that a feature of your home???

Why not?

Jesus parties with such lowly people as this purposefully while you look down your nose at them – and that is why not.

It’s time to repent.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  You don’t wanna miss it.

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