“…let every heart prepare Him room…” From “Joy to the World”
We’re having company…
What did the carol writer infer when he calls us to “prepare Him room?” If you are having guests over the holidays you no doubt take a quick look around and tidy the place up a bit. You want to put your best foot forward or at least be presentable when the company shows up.
The heart vs the living room…
But what does it mean to prepare our hearts? To receive guests into our physical space leads us to focus on cleanliness and order. Perhaps some fresh flowers or additions to the décor are planned. But what do we see when we take a quick look around our hearts? An honest look can bring troubling conclusions. We are too turned in on ourselves. We want others to accommodate our ever rising expectations. We want to cling to past grudges and make excuse for not having time for others. We clutch our right to expect more of others than ourselves. Heart preparation presents more of a challenge than a quick “picking up and straightening up” can address.
The King is coming!
And what does it mean to prepare for the coming of a King? The baby in the manger was God incarnate, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, equal with God the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1). He looked very contained in the manger and on the Hallmark card, but looks can deceive.
Somehow the wise men’s hearts were prepared. They arrived and promptly worshiped the King (Matthew 2:11). The bended knee is the symbolic expression of submission to authority. To prepare our hearts for the King includes the recognition that He is Lord of Lords. We owe Him our allegiance, our obedience, our worship. To do otherwise is treason to the Sovereign. This is a whole lot tougher than straightening the couch cushions and dusting the mantle!
But the gospel is good news! Christ has come to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He does not call us to clean ourselves up and try to become righteous enough to meet the holy standard of perfection. The shadow of the cross extends across the manger. The substitutionary atoning sacrifice by Jesus on the cross pays the penalty for our sin and bids us to receive salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not about our efforts to earn His favor, but the unspeakably good gift of Christ’s righteousness on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Look up when you clean up!
At some point over the holidays, we’ll all do some cleaning up. Perhaps that activity can remind us of the good news of the gospel. As we clean up the house, rejoice that God does not require us to clean up our hearts before He will enter. Rejoice in the free offer of salvation in the gospel to all who believe. By God’s grace our hearts can prepare Him room!