Let’s talk about having people over.
Personally, I love having people over to our house. I’m a social creature by nature. My definition of “me time” is one-on-one time with a good friend. If we have a Saturday with nothing on our family calendar, I’m perfectly content to make breakfast and piddle around the house… until about mid-afternoon, when I’m pacing around like a caged animal, wondering who can play with us. I’m like a golden retriever or something: if you really want to keep me happy and healthy, I need to be regularly socialized.
So naturally, I love having people over!
But in reality: we don’t have people over as often as we could. You know why?
It’s a lot of work to have people over.
Especially new people. When new people come over – for reasons I cannot completely explain – I feel compelled to do cleaning that seldom otherwise happens. Base boards must be dusted and the inside of the microwave should be scrubbed and the rugs are due to be washed and why do all our hand towels look like old rags?
As much as I love having people over, we don’t do it as often as we could because that first time is just so much work.
But oh, thank God for old friends!
Sweet, sweet old friends who have seen my house plenty of times before. They know that it can pass the white glove test – but they also know no one lives like that all the time, myself included. They’ve dropped by at a moment’s notice and seen my home in its everyday potpourri of toys and school papers and discarded clothing items. When those kind of friends are coming over, it’s a quick once-over the bathrooms (maybe) and we’re good to go.
If everyone were old friends – shoot, I’d be having people over all the time.
Now, think about God. What category does God fit in? Is God a new friend or an old friend?
We need friends. We’re designed to be in relationships. Remember how God made Adam and noticed that he was lonely – so God made Eve? That says something about our nature as human beings. We need real, meaningful time with other people.
In the same way, we also need real, meaningful time with God. It’s the most important relationship we’re designed for. The God who created us doesn’t force that; all real relationships are by choice, after all. So the Holy Spirit gives us that dissatisfacted feeling that keeps us searching until we realize that God is what’s missing.
Once we recognize that need, we should invite God into our lives, immediately!
Except that – if God is a new friend – we might have a lot of housecleaning to do first.
Let’s be real: our metaphorical houses are a mess! We know we should be giving more and judging less, forgiving more and revenging less.
And that’s just the stuff you see when you first walk in.
The double-trouble is, when God comes over God doesn’t just sit in the living room by the front door – you know, the room no one really uses so it’s almost always guest-ready. No: God’s the kind of new friend who helps himself to a tour of the house. If you let God in, before you know it God’s not just in your bedroom but looking in the closest and under the bed; God’s opening the drawers in the master bathroom; God’s in the junk room, poking around through the stuff you swore you were going to clean out six months after you moved in.
We want to spend time with God, we really do – but who’s got time to get their houses and lives in that kind of order?
If only we could just fast-forward to God being an old friend, one who had already been over and seen all the junk and loved us anyway.
Maybe that’s why God did what God did at Christmas.
When Jesus Christ was born, God came barging into the world. God came to us and experienced all the wonder and nastiness of humanity. The first “room” God came into was a barn! God’s time on earth showed it all: back rooms and dirty laundry hampers and secret stashes. God saw our whole, messy lives.
And God loved us anyway.
If your soul is craving God but you’re hesitant to really invite God in, then hear this good news: Our God is Emmanuel, God With Us. God’s already been over to our houses, to our lives. God is already at old-friend status.
So don’t wait any longer. Open the door to the most important relationship of your life.
Let God in.
But wait – there’s more!
I have some friends who are so old and so good, they will actually help me leave my house in better shape than they found it. Before they leave, they help pick up the toys our kids got out and clean up the kitchen from the meal we made.
God is that kind of friend. Once you invite God in, God will start cleaning up. The longer God stays, you’ll notice more and more of your “house” is getting in better shape.
So don’t just invite God in – welcome God to stay. See what happens to your life when you do.
You won’t regret it.