Driving into work this morning I heard the song, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing!” (Isaac Watts) I’ve been thinking about what it means to “let every heart prepare Him room”.
The hymn writer’s words, of course, echo Luke’s ominous remarks that at the birth of Jesus, there was no room for Him and His parents in the inn (Luke 2:7). John makes it even plainer that not everyone received the earth’s coming King with open arms: “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:9-11)
This is the sad reality of Christmas. Truth is not always welcome in this sin-scarred world of ours, as we are reminded of almost every day. Yet fortunately John doesn’t stop on a note of rejection; instead, he continues with a note of reception: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
Jesus came not to exalt Himself, but He humbled Himself so that He could pay the ransom for the sin of all who would believe. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:1-4)
When we seek to show others love, we are esteeming them above our own interests, which is what Christ did while walking this earth. We are able to do that because we have opened our hearts to our Lord, Jesus Christ. We have made Him room to allow His light to shine through us as a beacon of hope to the world. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:13-15).