Welcome to the Neighborhood

By Marcy Barthelette

Let God move into your neighborhood—so you can move on in every area of your life.

Christine Caine, Unshakable

That house next door has been sitting vacant for a few months now. Real estate agents have shown it a number of times to prospective buyers but no sale has happened to date. Lots of questions come to mind when we find ourselves wondering who the next homeowner will be or if the current owner will eventually give up trying to sell and decide to rent the home instead. When a car parks in the driveway, it’s natural to peer out the window to see who might be looking. Is it a young family with active children or empty nesters just getting started on the next phase of life’s journey? Perhaps it’s a retired couple wanting to just enjoy those “golden years.” Maybe it’s a single parent with a whole passel of kids. Are there any pets waiting impatiently in the car? And here’s one for you….is it someone with long hair, a scruffy beard and a flowing robe with sandals on his feet? No, I’m not talking about a 1970s hippie. I’m asking what you’d think if you saw Jesus, the Son of God, looking at that house next door? What thoughts would rush to your mind if you learned that He just might be your new neighbor?

Would you be ecstatic at the thought of living right next door to Him? Would you rush to make a casserole and some brownies to take over as a neighborly welcome? Would you plan a party and invite the whole neighborhood to meet Him? Would you gladly invite Him into your home, offer Him a cup of hot coffee or a cold glass of lemonade and share a conversation with Him?

Or would you move away from the window, hoping He didn’t see you? Would you hide away in your home so that you wouldn’t need to confront Him? Would you worry that your house wasn’t big enough or fancy enough or clean enough to entertain Him? Did the supplies in your kitchen seem inappropriate to serve someone of His stature? Are your clothes not nice enough, the kids not well-enough behaved or would you be just plain worried that you couldn’t measure up to His expectations?

If you’re thinking any of these negative thoughts, you’ve been talking to the wrong people, reading the wrong books, and traveling down the wrong road. Imagine that house next door is really your heart and Jesus is contemplating what it would be like to dwell there. Imagine the miracles of every size and nature that could potentially become an everyday part of your life. Imagine the unimaginable beauty of His forgiveness and grace. Imagine a future where He has your back in every situation. And then ask yourself, whose child am I?

A thousand years from now, will it matter what title the world gave you? No, but it will make a literal hell of a difference whose child you are. Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven

Next week is Holy Week. On Sunday, we’ll celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem. In the early part of the week, we’ll see Him chasing out money-changers from the temple and being questioned by religious leaders. On Thursday, we’ll observe The Last Supper, setting the stage for all that is to follow. On Friday, the dark hours of betrayal, torture, and crucifixion will consume our thoughts. No one knew then what was to come on Sunday, but we do. He tried to tell His closest friends and followers but they didn’t understand. We have the benefit of hindsight, but the question remains; will we live our days responding to the cultural noise and chaos surrounding us or will we welcome into our neighborhood and our hearts the One whose promises have true meaning? Will we recall the words of our praise band last Sunday as they sang; “Your love is so much sweeter than anything I’ve tasted, I want to know your heart.”

It’s a good time to consider how we want to live out our days here on earth because the decision we make determines how we spend eternity.  

The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:14 MSG

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