Saturday, July 25, 2015
During July I’ve enjoyed being away for some days visiting relatives and friends. It’s a little humbling for me to hear people say how much they love having me come and stay with them for a couple of days.
While I was away I happened to meditate on two different passages that seem, as I look back, to have been really appropriate for the situation of being a house guest.
First there was this passage from the Letter of James:
The Greek word translated as “welcome” is the word for “receive,” but it serves also as the word for “to welcome, receive as a guest.” (It’s nice having the Greek New Testament on my Kindle!) There’s a difference, it seems to me, between simply “receiving” the Word and truly “welcoming” it into our hearts, the same as there’s a difference between having someone receive you into their house and having them truly welcome you into their home.
So, let’s say that I have received the word “that has taken root in me” as James describes it. The question is whether I really welcome it warmly because I enjoy having the word in my heart. It’s even more striking if I think of “the word” as the person of Jesus. Do I make him feel as welcome in my life as my friends have made me feel during my visits recently? I know how good it makes me feel to be truly and warmly welcomed by my hosts as opposed to just being “received” like a “guest” at a motel.
I pray that my actions and thoughts are the kind that make Christ feel genuinely wanted and welcomed in my heart.
The other passage that I meditated on earlier this week is from Chapter 6 of Mark. The disciples are in a boat out on the lake, having left Jesus back on land, when a violent storm starts to swamp their boat. They become terrified and start to cry out. Suddenly Jesus appears and, Mark tells us, “He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded” Mk 6:51).
The image that came to me when I was reading that passages was this: What if Jesus came to me like that during a storm, wanting to get into my boat with me but my boat was filled to the gunwales with so much stuff that there was no room for Him?
I asked myself what’s cluttering my boat and preventing Jesus from climbing in with me to calm the storm. I looked around at my boat and saw a lot of junk taking up valuable space that might well be keeping Jesus from joining me. The exercise was rather revealing, to tell the truth. And it was clear that I can’t very well invite Jesus to climb aboard if I’ve left no room for him. Nor can I grudgingly jettison couple of trivial things to make a little space in the stern for Him. That would be to “receive” Jesus, but it would hardly be “welcoming” him.
While the pleasant memory of being really welcomed by people during the past month is still fresh I pray that I’ll be generous enough to open my arms wide in welcome toward the Word, and that he’ll find plenty of room in my heart and feel like a truly wanted and welcome guest.