There is both good and bad in the fact that the cross has become a very familiar sight in our world. We see it everywhere we turn from buildings to jewelry. The message of the cross is so simple a child can understand, yet it is so rich that even if we were to spend every waking moment of our entire lives studying it we would fail to mine all the riches to be found there. In this series we will seek to mine some of those riches and spark a passion in each of us to pray as the hymn writer wrote “Jesus, keep me near the cross.”
The story of God continues to unfold as the nation He is establishing ends up enslaved to another nation. They cry out to God, He hears their cries and delivers them through His name, His power, and His plan. The way in which God delivers this young nation offers a glimpse into how He will deliver humankind from enslavement to sin.
A transformation takes place in our home in the days leading up to the arrival of guests. I don’t know if it is a result of how my wife and I were raised or if it is a common practice among human beings, but we shift into a different mindset during this time. We do everything we can to put our best foot forward.
Before I get myself into all kinds of trouble on the home front let me say that the typical state of our home is not one of chaos and disarray, at least not any more so than any home which includes two little children, a dog and a messy husband. The customary atmosphere of our home is best described as comfortably lived in. But with the anticipation of company “lived in” just won’t do.
Like most individuals expecting company my wife and I go into a meticulous cleaning mode, but instead of being satisfied with a spotless abode we take our preparations to a whole new level. For example, a few years ago the week before the imminent arrival of guests we set out on a mission of reorganizing our laundry room, several closets and remodeling our guest bedroom/home office, all of which wouldn’t be a big deal if there weren’t a two day deadline looming over our heads. Two days which were already filled with other responsibilities. Honoring guests in our home is a strength of ours. Realistically planning what we can fit into a short period of time is not.
There is a tradition among the Jewish people that dates back several millennia. At the beginning of their Passover celebration, which commemorates their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, parents hide yeast, also called leaven, throughout their home. After hiding the leaven they send their children through the home searching for all the leaven to bring back to the parents. This little object lesson is the inauguration of a week in which there is to be no bread cooked or eaten within the home that includes leaven. The house is cleaned out and made ready in remembrance of the way in which God set His people apart and delivered them from the hands of oppressors. In a loose sort of way, this tradition shares some similarities with the practice we’ve in adopted in our home of preparing for company.
The effort we expend in preparing our home for honored guests really isn’t the most important factor to welcoming them into our home. Regardless of how beautiful and spotless our home may look if we don’t have attitudes that communicate warmth and friendliness then the house will feel cold and cruel no matter how calming the color scheme or how fresh the fragrances flowing from our Plug-Ins. Most people don’t come to our home to see our home they come to our home because they want to spend time with us. So the attitude or our heart is far more important than the preparation of our home.
This was the point of the Passover object lesson. In hiding leaven throughout the home parents were taking an external activity to illuminate an internal heart attitude. God didn’t care as much about clean homes as He did welcoming hearts. He was looking for, and has always been looking for, individual hearts that welcome Him as an honored guest. The problem is far too many individuals have been ambushed by an obsession with getting the house in order at the expense of the heart. There is a widespread belief that one can’t possibly expect God would want anything to do with us until all the vices have been cleaned out. We’ve got to get it all together for such an honored guest. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is none of us can possibly get it all together. The best we can do is mess it up. We are like my four year old washing the good china, yikes! God doesn’t expect any of us to get the whole house straightened and just right before we invite Him over for a stay. What He desires is a heart that is welcoming. A heart that acknowledges the dust bunnies and dirty closets and is overwhelmingly grateful that such an honored guest would so genuinely desire we abide with Him.